Ante Zizic has been very impressive playing overseas for Cibona Zagreb in Croatia this season. The 19-year old Center is averaging 19.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game. Zizic was the 23rd pick in this year's draft by the Celtics, and not since Larry Bird have the C's stashed a 1st round pick to play for another team (Larry played another year at Indiana St. after being taken 6th overall in '78).
Our old pal Dino Radja was in town yesterday, and the Boston media was excited to see the former Celtic - clearly they loved him as much as the fans did:
Nice to see and chat with old friend Dino Radja (look him up, young C's fans). He's in town to see his son, who's playing at Kimball Union.— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) November 25, 2016
Had a great talk with former @celtics big Dino Radja who spoke highly of Celtics draft pick Ante Zizic. Will post shortly.— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) November 25, 2016
A. Sherrod Blakely had a great conversation with Dino about Zizic, and what he's seen from him so far - via CSNNE.com:
“He’s very active rebounding. He’s after every ball. He’s not waiting for the ball to come to him,” Radja told CSNNE.com. “He’s a young player. Those are some things I really like.”
“He can be a good player,” Radja said. “He needs time to develop. But he has a high upside.”
Shortly after the draft this offseason, Zizic was asked about playing overseas and didn't seem thrilled about the idea, via Jay King of MassLive:
"I don't know (what will happen)," Zizic said. "I think I'm ready right now so we'll see."
Seems pretty clear talking to Ante Zizic the past two days that he would definitely rather stay in Boston than be stashed overseas.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) June 24, 2016
After the major success of Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis in his rookie season, Zizic has to be charged up about the impact he can make in the NBA himself. Radja mentioned the importance of getting to the NBA at the right time. Although Zizic is impressing for Cibona this year, a little more seasoning over there is probably best for his overall development:
“I’ve seen him the last two years and he is progressing very nicely,” said Radja who was in Boston on Friday to watch his son play at a nearby prep school this week. “I think if he (Zizic) picks up the right timing, maybe not next year but the year after that, he would be … come here too early and sit on the bench, too much trouble, too much ... you need your time, you need minutes, you need games in order to be good player.”
Dino also mentioned that he'll be sure to boast about the city of Boston that awaits Ante:
“I can tell him only how much I love this place,” Radja said. “I love the people around here. I had a great time. When he comes here, he’s going to have a great time here. I have no doubt about that in my mind.”
Hopefully Zizic can sit tight for a while in Croatia while the abundance of players under Celtics control are sorted out. There's no doubt part of the reason Danny Ainge was enticed by Zizic and fellow 1st-rounder Guerschon Yabusele (who's playing in China for the Shanghai Sharks) was that he knew he could stash them while he continues to try to make moves to enhance his team's roster. It's great to know we've got some really talented guys getting seasoned with plenty of playing time across the globe.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go fire up NBA Jam.
Related: What the hell happened to Dino Radja?!
Photo credit: 1st - Eurohoops.com, 2nd - Celtics.com
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Mark Allison 11/26/2016 12:27:00 PM Tweet Edit