Vasilije Curcic has been working out with Carl English in St. John’s in recent off-seasons, but he never believed he’d actually get to be a teammate of Newfoundland’s pre-eminent basketball player.
At least not this quickly.
“I’ve known Carl for five years now and he has helped me a lot,” said Curcic. “But I never expected that in my first season playing professionally, I’d be playing with him.
“I couldn’t have dreamed that.”
But that’s exactly what’s happened now that the former Memorial Sea-Hawk centre/forward is one of the newest members of the St. John’s Edge, the National Basketball League of Canada team that features English as its star shooting guard.
Curcic, the Sea-Hawks’ third-leading scorer of all-time, was signed by St. John’s last month, in part because of English’s lobbying of head coach Jeff Dunlap.
He’s already seen action — albeit in limited minutes — in two games. However, both those contests were on the road, meaning Curcic is in line to make his Mile One Centre debut tonight as the Edge play their first game of 2018 when host they Windsor Express in the first game of a four-game home stand.
The Edge (8-4) will hope that they have been able to scrape off the rust that must have accumulated during an especially long Christmas break; St. John’s hasn’t played a game since Dec. 19.
The 6-9, 235-pound Curcic already has some recent experience in that regard.
After finishing second in Atlantic conference scoring (20.1 points per game) last season, the 27-year-old graduated with a business degree from Memorial last spring, but returned to his native Serbia in hopes of beginning his professional basketball career in his home country.
That never happened.
“I had many offers in Serbia and I was practising with a couple of teams, but I was probably kind of, you know, a little bit too picky waiting for a what I thought was a good offer, and I was waiting and waiting,” he said.
“Then the seasons started over there and it was getting kind of late, so then I heard from coach Jeff (Edge head coach and general manager Jeff Dunlap) and I was happy to get the offer to come back here, because I like it in St. John’s, a lot” added Curcic, whose girlfriend, Samantha Power, is from Mount Pearl.
Curcic had actually been in contact with Dunlap last summer — Memorial head coach Peter Benoite had already filled in his professional counterpart about his former star,
“But nothing happened right away, so I was planning to play somewhere in Europe at first, but things didn’t work out for me,” said Curcic. “I was ready to play, but offers weren’t very good … and I don’t know, it just didn’t work out with the clubs I was practising with.
“So when the option came for me to go back to Newfoundland, I knew that would be a good decision.”
Curcic, who had been an AUS all-star in all five of his years at Memorial, said he realized the NBL Canada featured “a lot of good players, but I heard there weren’t a lot of systems, but actually, when I joined (the Edge), I found out we have a really good system and are really well coached so I was glad to see that.
“The league is really good quality. I think it’s a good place to see how good I am and whether I will be able to play basketball at a high level.”
The Edge, who share the best winning percentage in the league (.667) with the defending champion London Lightning, face the Express (6-8) again on Wednesday, then wrap up the home stand versus the KW (Kitchener-Waterloo) Titans (2-8) Friday and Saturday.
All games have 7 p.m. start times.