Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Recruiting recap, so far

Here is my story on New Mexico State signees Matej Buovac and Kevin Aronis.

Aronis adds some level of experience to a young backcourt, so I liked the fact that the Aggies went to the junior college ranks to grab him, thanks in large part to assistant Keith Brown.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Aggies don't find a way to add another guard to add some additional depth.

The Aggies are also in the mix for former UTEP commit Anthony January and 6-7 Rashaun Stimage out of Chicago, although if they were to land in Las Cruces, we probably wouldn't see them until the following season. January reportedly has said that he was going to attend prep school and reclassify as a 2013 prospect.

Kevin Aronis interview

Remember Paris Carter?

Probably not, but Carter was the only junior college player to play for Marvin Menzies, albeit briefly.

Santa Rosa Junior College sophomore Kevin Aronis joined the Aggies to add 3-point shooting to a young roster with size.

"Kevin is a first for me in a way so obviously I must be high on him," Menzies said. "He is not just a set shooter. He was a key target on his team whenever they played."

Aronis was a 40-percent shooter from 3-point range last year. At 6-foot-3, Aronis used a combination of basketball IQ and a quick release to get free.

"People were not leaving him," said Santa Rosa coach Craig McMillan. "He gets his shot off quick and he shoots it from deep."

Going the junior college route helped Aronis improve from a Division II prospect to a likely shooting specialist at the Division I level.

“It was the same style of play but I won’t be the second leading scorer (at NMSU),” Aronis said. “I do have a pretty quick release  and I have some loft to my shot if there is a defender there. You have to be able to read defenses and find the gaps. All of those things combined to help me get open.”

Adding a junior college makes sense for next  year's team. The Aggies have young players in the backcourt so perhaps a player such as Aronis can not only help right away, but provide some stability to a team that normally goes through some growing pains early in the season.

"I played against a lot of good players who are going Division I," Aronis said. "That makes it easier maybe than a high school guy. I don't think I would have handled it well coming out of high schoool but I think I will handle the transition better as a junior."

Aronis came to Las Cruces on a visit in late March and was on the verge of landing an offer at Sam Houston State. Sacramento State wanted him to walk on but a recent NCAA Tournament appearance made the decision easy.

Aronis graduates with an Associates Degree and will come to NMSU for the second session of summer school. He said he is leaning towards a communications degree and wants to coach after he's done playing.

Aronis said the Aggies seemed like a family oriented program when he came to campus, which was important for him. Aronis has been around his family up until now, as he played for nearby Analy High School before playing at Santa Rosa.

"It was really easy since I had been playing open gym against those guys since I was in high school. Going to New Mexico, I'm kind of ready to go out on my own. I'm a little nervous but I think I'm ready to handle it fine."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Matej Buovac interview

Croatian international Matej Buovac was recruited to New Mexico State to add 3-point shooting, but the Aggies also added leadership when they landed the 6-7 shooter from La Lumiere Prep. Here are a few comments from Buovac, starting with his experience at the international level, where he has played twice in the Euro Championships. Regardless of what he may be able to add from a shooting perspective, Buovac has played a lot of basketball for a kid who turns 19 on June 5.

Most recently, Buovac captained the Croatia Under 18 team last summer. He also played on the U16 team.
"It was a pretty good experience and an honor for me. We lost in the quarterfinals to Spain, who won it all. We finshed eighth."

Buovac graduates from La Lumiere on May 25 and will travel home to Croatia. While he can play for his country again this summer for the U-20 team, Buovac said he is currently leaning toward coming to Las Cruces for the second summer session in June.
"I have next year to play as well. I think I should go (to NMSU) early because it's my first year in college and I want to get to know everybody and start working with the team. I'm leaning toward coming back earlier."

Buovac said he averaged around 10 points and shot 44 percent from 3 point range at La Lumiere. While the numbers don't jump off the page, consider the level of play. La Lumiere finished the season ranked No. 35 and played in the ESPN Rise Championships and was the only team to beat Findlay Prep during the season. Buovac said two of his teammates committed to Purdue, one to Indiana and 7-foot center Obij Aget committed to New Mexico.

Buovac has been in the US since August of last year. Schools reportedly interested in him were Bradley and Tulane and he had an offer from UAB.

"No. 1, was the coaching staff. Marvin Menzies showed me the most love. He came to my prep school two times to see me and Indiana is a long ways from Las Cruces. Second and most important, the basketball program is a winning team and that was important to me that they won the conference and went to the NCAAs."

Rather than stay in Croatia, Buovac came to the US via Dave Maravilla, who helps place European players in the US.

"If I stayed back home, I could have signed a professional contract but I chose to come to the States like a lot of European players do. I could have continued my education if I would have stayed but it's very hard and I probably would have been average on both sides. In America, I can excel on both sides."

Buovac came to visit for a NMSU home game against Hawaii, where it became apparent to him that he could contribute at this level.

"Shooting is my forte and that's why they recruited me," he said. "When I was watching the Hawaii game, they are a high major team athletically but they just needed somebody to hit shots and help spread the defense."

With the loss of three seniors, the Aggies will have a lot of youth on the roster next year. During his visit, Buovac said he spent the most time with redshirts KC Ross Miller and Sim Bhullar.

"It was a gameday so I wasn't hanging out with players so much, but KC and Sim gave me some background. I like that I can come in and contribute in my freshman year."