Monday, October 31, 2016

SIAA Next Stop On Stakic's Basketball Odyssey

Milan Stakic is a big man with a big wealth of life experience.

At just 18, the 7-foot and 260-pound behemoth possesses the kind of worldly experience others might gain in a lifetime. Stakic has been to three countries in four years, picked up two new languages, and had a number of different coaches harness his development.

How's this for growing up fast: At age 15, Stakic had already reached 6-foot-9. A monster masquerading as a teenager, Stakic tipped the scales at 235 pounds. At age 16, the Bosnian's game garnered the attention of several professional agents--two of whom have become staples in his inner circle.

At age 17, Stakic played in the prestigious Canaries Basketball Academy. He learned Spanish, assimilated to a new culture, and provided a significant post presence for a team containing seven players exceeding the height of 6-foot-6.

"He has had an early start on the traveling and city-to-city journey ride of a basketball career," said Nikola Cicic, who has played an integral role in pushing the development of Stakic.

"Most kids his age don't have the maturity he has or the sense of awareness you get from being on your own. Milan has had to be very self-reliant and responsible for himself, more so than a lot of other kids in his age group."

This attribute should help Stakic's transition to the rigors of the NCAA experience. Widely regarded as a mid to high-major prospect, Stakic has shed 15 pounds in just over a month. He continues to work away at shedding weight, a necessity given the high-octane running game The Conrad Academy will look to install this season.

East Carolina and UMBC have both expressed considerable interest in Stakic, who arrived at the doorstep with a deft shooting touch from 15-18 feet. Big, soft hands and a skill-set that's rare for guys his size renders Stakic appealing at the next level. Yet it is an increase in speed and vertical ability that continues to ready him for the next level. Working diligently under Brad Traina, the former UCF sharpshooter (he is seventh all time with 156 career 3-pointers) and 12-year professional over the waters, a steady evolution remains.

"Areas in which Milan continues to improve are his shooting ability with both hands and his feel around the basket," said Traina , who has been instrumental in both funneling talent to TCA and cultivating a skill-set in a guard-heavy lineup.

"He's a good decision maker and a force around the basket to finish offensively. He's become both more adept and more aggressive rebounding the ball and protecting the rim. He will continue to improve his vertical leap by at least four inches before leaving our program. We envision him evolving as a threat on both sides of the ball. All of this will mold him into a huge pick up for any Division-I program, including many high-major programs."

Stakic also has a fight on his hands in practice.

Everyday, he must go against Austin Wiley, a 6-foot-10 Auburn commit and Spain Park (AL) transfer. He also has to ply his trade against a blossoming 7-footer in Ari Boya, a sophomore shot-blocking presence via Cameroon, Africa.

Tapping into the international market has helped build a roster with nine foreign players, including Florida and Louisville target Luguentz Dort (Canada), a 6-foot-3 guard. Also on the roster is Mel Esso, a 6-foot-7 wing out of France.

Stakic said he is still looking to cut weight. Understanding the breakneck speed of the SIAA has given him a better feel of what his role needs to be.