Guard/Forward Igor Milicic Jr. Commits To Virginia Basketball’s Class Of 2021

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The University of Virginia men’s basketball program has picked up a second commitment in the class of 2021, and once again head coach Tony Bennett has reeled in a promising prospect from overseas. Igor Milicic Jr., a 6’9” small forward prospect and native of Poland, revealed his college plans to ESPN.com’s Jonathan Givony.

Milicic Jr., who has played alongside former Virginia standout Isaiah Wilkins for Ratiopharm Ulm in the Germany basketball first division professional league this spring, detailed what appealed to him about Virginia and what role he expects to play. He should arrive in Charlottesville this summer.

“I really think that I can fit the team well,” Milicic said in this article on ESPN.com. “My role will be to play and practice hard and Coach Bennett will find a role for me to help the team be successful. I’m tall for my position with a long wingspan and that should be a great fit for his defensive philosophy.

“Offensively they use many off-ball screens which fits my versatility. 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% prepared from day one.”

Milicic Jr. joins 4-star guard Taine Murray of New Zealand in Virginia basketball’s class of 2021. The Hoos have also added transfers Armaan Franklin (shooting guard from Indiana) and Jayden Gardner (power forward from East Carolina) this offseason while losing guard Casey Morsell, wing Jabri Abdur-Rahim, and forward Justin McKoy to transfer.

If junior Trey Murphy III stays in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Hoos have three scholarships available for next season. If Murphy III returns – a scenario many feel is unlikely although he has maintained his eligibility – then UVA would have two available scholarships.

With or without Murphy III in 2021-22, Virginia had a need for a combo forward type – a guard/forward player who can do multiple things offensively and defend multiple positions – and Milicic Jr. fits that mold. Below are some scouting reports on the new Cavalier recruit, whose father, Igor Sr., was a Croatian national team player who now serves as head coach of a team in the Polish league.

ID Prospects Report (Dated January 19, 2021)

Click here to go to the scouting report page

Skills of Interest: Size, Length and Agility, Shooting + Closeout Attacking, Defensive Upside

It’s not hard to see why Milicic could become an intriguing fit for the modern NBA. Standing at 6’8”, he shows the agility and shooting ability of a guard. While neither his three-point nor his free-throw percentages are outstanding, he attempts five threes a game and shows comfort with various types of shots: pull-ups from three or the midrange, off-screen shooting, and catch-and-shoots against hard closeouts. His shooting mechanics are unusual: he shoots a two-motion shot with a very short second motion and therefore a high release, but they seem to work for him and help him get his shots off under pressure.

He complements the shot with the ability to put the ball on the floor and score/make decisions on drives, though he has room for improvement in both departments. Listed at 84 kg/185 lbs, he currently lacks the strength to create space on his drives, even though he’s explosive enough to get into good positions initially. Milicic does, however, have a good frame, so there’s hope that he can make significant physical improvements in the upcoming years. He’s also able to make all the basic reads (drive-and-kick, drive-and-dish) on the move, but he shows flashes of quite advanced live-dribble passes with his right, so he would be even more interesting if the level of his reads could catch up to the impressive passing skill he displays from time to time. He’ll never initiate a large chunk of an offense, but being able to put the ball on the floor and punish hard closeouts is tremendously important for a shooter.

Bulking up would also help him defensively, where he currently lacks the physicality to play in the German BBL. Nevertheless, the flashes he shows on that end are intriguing. At the POA, he shows at least passable lateral quickness and complements this with good length (which he also uses to contribute on the offensive glass, where he grabs over 1.5 boards a game despite exclusively playing on the perimeter), which has proven hard for opponents to score over. As a team defender, he’s almost always in the right place at the right time and has even been able to make an impact as a weakside rim protector, despite not being an elite vertical presence.

It’s clear that Milicic has a lot of work to put in before he can be considered a legitimate NBA candidate, but the skill level, the feel for the game as well as some of the physical tools make him a long-term option. In my opinion, he’s in a good developmental spot at Orange Academy, and it’ll be interesting to track how much he can improve in the upcoming years.

Eurospects (Dated January 29, 2020)

Click here to go to the scouting report page

Impressive pace of development regarding that Igor Milicic Jr didn’t even make the final cut for the tournament last season. Son of Anwil Wloclawek head coach maybe didn’t dominate the tournament but still it was his international breakout performance. However it can’t be a surprise for those following german NBBL where he emerged as a real force and quickly became integral part of Orange Academy in very challenging competition for U18 player like Pro B. Polish Croatian prospect is a sized small forward who can get to the rim and many guards can be jealous of his adept ball handling skills or non dunk situational finishes for someone standing around 6’9 in shoes. Fairly athletic, with nice fluidity, can speed up the offense or go coast to coast after grabbing the rebounds which he excels in. Shot looks correct with high release point and despite the fact that he looks to drive it can definitely become dependable in short future. What may be the most attractive about Igor is how much room for improvement he has given being late bloomer. He just stopped growing, became way more explosive, improved his coordination which allows him to feel his body better and that can be huge advantage once his frame fills out. He is still transitioning to the go to guy role, could attack more to the left, has occasional issues with defending smaller players but he looked every bit of Top 30 prospect caliber given his length, versatility, fundamentals and having something special which is hard to define to his game.

According to ID Prospects, Milicic Jr. averaged 13.3 points (46.6% field goals, 30.8% from 3, 67.4% from the free throw line), 5.5 rebounds (1.6 offensive), 2.2 assists and 2 turnovers per game with the German ProB team this year. Below are highlights of the Virginia-bound guard/forward in action this year. (The final highlights are from a Ratiopharm Ulm win over Giessen last month. Milicic Jr. is #25 in orange. Wilkins is #11.)

EDGE Outlook

Virginia has added a new piece to the 2021-22 season puzzle With Milicic Jr. Should Murphy III not return, the projected scholarship roster for next season stands as follows:

Point Guards: Kihei Clark (Sr), Reece Beekman (Soph)

Wings: Kody Stattmann (Sr), Armaan Franklin (Jr), Carson McCorkle (Soph), Taine Murray (Fr)

Combo Forwards: Igor Milicic Jr. (Fr)

Posts: Jayden Gardner (Sr), Francisco Caffaro (R-Jr), Kadin Shedrick (R-Soph)

Based off the limited footage we have and the above scouting reports, Milicic Jr. has a promising combination of size and skill. Has a good-looking stroke and shows solid ballhandling potential and the ability to drive to the basket. Being the son of a coach means he probably has a good basketball IQ, which is always important to Coach Bennett. The ID scout above mentioned he had good feel for the game.

The biggest question regarding Milicic Jr. will be how quickly he will be ready to contribute, because if Murphy III does not return, UVA still has some needs to fill for next season, including more scoring punch and frontcourt depth/versatility. Bennett may not have the luxury of redshirting given UVA’s lack of depth at the 3 and 4 spots, unless the Hoos add another similar type of player or if Murphy III returns.

In the transfer age, some of Igor’s comments to Givony stood out to me. He seems ready to put in the work and appears ready to be patient, which is paramount in Coach Bennett’s developmental-based program.

“The plan is to get better each day and hopefully over time I’ll become a key piece of the program,” Milicic Jr. said.

“My role will be to play and practice hard and Coach Bennett will find a role for me to help the team be successful.”

Looking ahead to 2022-23, UVA’s roster now projects as follows:

Point Guards: Reece Beekman (Jr)

Wings: Armaan Franklin (Sr), Carson McCorkle (Jr), Taine Murray (Soph), Isaac McKneely (Fr)

Combo Forwards: Igor Milicic Jr. (Soph)

Posts: Francisco Caffaro (R-Sr), Kadin Shedrick (R-Jr)

Virginia currently has five scholarships available for the recruiting class of 2022. McKneely, a shooting guard, is the lone commit and is listed above. UVA has offered four other rising high school seniors, including point guard Austin Nunez, wing Justin Taylor, combo forward Bobi Klintman and forward Isaac Traudt.

The Hoos are set to host the 6’9″ Traudt on an official visit in June. I don’t believe the commitment of Milicic Jr. impacts UVA’s pursuit of the Nebraska star, who Bennett and company have been in hot pursuit of throughout this year. I believe Jayden Gardner will likely move on after the 2021-22 season, leaving a need still in the frontcourt. But if Traudt were to commit, would the Hoos continue to pursue other possible combo forwards/posts? I’d argue that the Hoos could still use a more athletic combo forward type, and Klintman, who the staff has compared to De’Andre Hunter, still could fill that.

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