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Virginia Basketball lands prized international prospect Igor Milicic Jr.

uva athleticsVirginia basketball coach Tony Bennett might have his insurance policy in case talented wing Trey Murphy III stays in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Igor Milicic Jr., a 6’9” forward who averaged 13.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game playing in Germany’s third division this past season, announced Saturday that he is committing to Virginia.

“There are many things that are special about UVA,” Milicic told ESPN.com’s Jonathan Givony. “In terms of basketball culture, great fans, and really good academics which is also a big thing for me. Coach Bennett and his coaching staff are one of the best in the country. I feel like I will have the best conditions to become a better player and person.”

Milicic shot 56.5 percent from the floor and 32.4 percent from three-point range in 2020-2021 with Orange Academy Ulm in the German ProB league, and also got some time last season with top-division team Ratiopharm Ulm, whose roster includes UVA alum Isaiah Wilkins.

“This was a very difficult and important decision in my career,” Milicic said. “My dream is to play basketball at the highest levels in the U.S. or Europe. I am aware that only hard work will get me there. I am determined to accomplish that goal. Where and when, it remains to be seen.”

Milicic figures to factor in as a frontcourt starter at Virginia if the 6’9” Murphy doesn’t return, as some are coming to assume to be the case, considering how his stock is rising in the pre-draft evaluation process.

If Murphy leaves, that would mean that Bennett would have to replace his starters at the 3, 4 and 5 slots – Murphy, 6’8” forward Sam Hauser and 7’1” center Jay Huff.

Virginia returns just two bigs – 6’11” redshirt freshman Kadin Shedrick and 7’0” redshirt sophomore Francisco Caffaro – from the 2020-2021 roster.

Bennett began addressing the deficiency in the post with the commitment of one of the top post players in the transfer portal last month, ECU junior Jayden Gardner, who chose Virginia from among numerous programs that had been attempting to land him.

Gardner averaged 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game at East Carolina in 2020-2021, and figures to give UVA a toughness inside that has been lacking the past couple of seasons.

Milicic fits more of the mold of a Hauser or Murphy, a tall, rangy player who is more a threat from the perimeter.

“Offensively, they use many off-ball screens, which fits my versatility,” Milicic said. “I feel good getting jump shots or driving opportunities off flare screens, pin-downs or staggers. The plan is to get better each day and hopefully over time I’ll become a key piece of the program. I am going to work all summer to be 100 percent prepared from day one.”

Story by Chris Graham


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