Wednesday, May 31, 2017

West Oaks Product To Continue Career at Florida National University

Petar Skoknic, once a reputable sharpshooter at West Oaks Academy in Florida, has penned to prolong his career at Florida National University.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Serbian off guard spent the past year as a combination guard at Eastern Wyoming College, where he averaged 15.6 points.

“It’s really an honor to continue my basketball career at  Florida National University, knowing how much emphasis they put on shooters,” said Skoknic, who played for the U-18 and U-20 national team in Serbia.

 “Knowing I have the potential to play right away and impact the game as a catch-and-shoot threat, it’s a great feeling. It also seemed like a place where I can grow as a student and as a person. I was very impressed with head coach James “JJ” Thatcher and we really connected.

"He has a great vision for the program so I will buy in and try to take them to the best possible situation. My goal, from the start, is to contribute in any way I can and help move the program up the food chain. It is a challenge I am ready and excited for. I want to thank coach Chris Chaney, who is currently at NTSI, for pushing my development as a player. Coach Chaney, he's the one who showed me how I could use my skill-set in a variety of ways. I'll always be indebted to the guy for that."

It didn’t take much time to chew on the decision. Skoknic FaceTimed his family over the waters. They agreed it was the best possible situation for him. FNU has earned several national tournament berths in recent years.

 This, along with Thatcher’s reputation as a relentless recruiter with deep connections in the Florida area and beyond, help reel in Skoknic.

Onward and upward.

Former West Oaks coach Nikola Cicic, who has molded a number of talent from his homeland over the years, saw potential in his fellow countryman five years ago.
Cicic, once a 25-point scorer at now-defunct Rise Academy (PA) and a local Serbian hoops pioneer, envisioned a 3-point threat capable of dictating a game in critical moments.

Cicic was quick to cite the poise under pressure, the ability to hit with amplified face-guarding and navigate double teams. The combo guard's transition 3-pointers and ability to carve into the lane with his left hand earned him credibility in the SIAA. While Cicic worked with him tirelessly, Chaney continued to assess his progress.
At West Oaks, a top-18 national program which has only improved over time, the smooth lefty offered instant contributions as a kick-out shooter. He was a key source during pressure-spiked moments late in the game. The Serbian sharpshooter had several game-winners and go-ahead buckets during a national schedule.

Skoknic, most notably was lauded for shedding the “soft European” stereotype which tends to follow players of his type.

“He’s as heady as he is coachable,” said Cicic of his Serbian understudy.

"Add in the fact that he can hit clutch shots and that he never steers away from pressure, he’s a winner. He made a name for himself and worked twice as hard knowing people were looking to expose him. I’m extremely proud of him and it is a testament to all the hard work he’s put in over time.”