Ever since he arrived in St. John’s, Jeff Dunlap had heard about Vasilije Curcic.
Now, the head coach of the St. John’s Edge is getting to see first-hand what all the talk is all about.
Curcic, the third-leading scorer all time for the Memorial Sea-Hawks, has signed with the National Basketball League of Canada’s Edge, who begin a three-game road trip tonight in Kitchener, Ont., against the K-W Titan.
The 27-year-old power forward from Serbia graduated earlier this year after a collegiate career that saw him named an AUS all-star in all five of his years at Memorial.
“He was one of the first players who was introduced to me when I got this job,” said Dunlap.
“Peter (Memorial men’s basketball coach Peter Benoite) came over and spent some time with me and he told me all about Vasilije.”
Dunlap listened and followed up with some film study of the 6-9, 240-pound Curcic.
“At the time — we were getting ready to start training camp — I just wasn’t sure if I needed his style of player. But as training camp went on, I discovered I probably did need the pick-and-pop calibre big … somebody who could stretch a defence, widen the floor and stay out on the perimetre if need, and also hit a three-pointer.
“Nobody in camp grabbed that role, so I went back to the tape and I started considering the Vasilije option and some other guys, too, too.”
It turned out Benoite wasn’t the only Newfoundland basketball personality lobbying on Curcic’s behalf. As Dunlap put it, Edge star guard Carl English “chimed in” about what the former Sea-Hawk could do.
“Carl has never played a game with him, but he has worked out with him he past few years in the off-season,” said Dunlap. “He loved his work ethic and he loved his ability to shoot the ball. The other thing is that he thought Vasilije had really improved during his time in St. John’s.
“He kept saying we should bring him in to give him a try. And with us developing an opening on the roster, it’s what we’ve done.”
“(Carl English) kept saying we should bring (Vasilije Curcic) in to give him a try. And with us developing an opening on the roster, it’s what we’ve done.”
St. John’s Edge head coach Jeff Dunlap
A season-ending knee injury suffered last week by Jordan Jensen-Whyte and the release of Marcus Lewis created roster vacancies that have been filled by Curcic and Wally Ellenson, whose signing by the Edge was also announced Tuesday.
Last season, Curcic was second in Atlantic conference scoring (20.1 points per game) and sixth in rebounds (8.1), and was a second-team AUS all-star for the third time in his AUS career. He had also been a first-team selection in 2016 and a member of the conference’s all-rookie team in 2013.
He led Memorial in scoring in all five of seasons at the school and was in the top five in the conference in his last four.
Dunlap said Curcic has been impressive in limited practice time with the Edge, but isn’t sure how much he’ll be used on this trip through southern Ontario.
“To be honest, it’s hard to expect a whole lot in these three road games given he’s only has a couple of days with us,” said Dunlap.
“But once he’s had full week of practice with us after we come back after Christmas, I’m excited at what he might do.”