The University of Virginia men’s basketball program officially has its second member of the class of 2021. Igor Milicic Jr., a 6’9″, 215-pound guard/forward prospect out of Rovinj, Croatia, signed a letter of intent with the Hoos and will join 6’5” guard Taine Murray as first-year scholarship players enrolling on Grounds this summer.
“We are thrilled to add Igor into the Virginia men’s basketball family,” Bennett said in a May 6 press release, which you can read by clicking here. “Igor is a skilled and versatile player with good size and length. We are excited about his potential and look forward to him joining our program.”
Milicic Jr. said: “I am really excited about the upcoming season and can’t wait to get to Charlottesville to see all of the Hoos’ fans in person, hopefully in the arena. I think with the help of Coach Bennett I can become a great athlete as well as a great young adult. I can guarantee you that I am going to do everything necessary for the team to get better every day.”
ESPN NBA Draft Analyst Jonathan Givony describes Milicic Jr. as a “6’9” forward with guard skills” and “one of the top European prospects pursuing the NCAA route.”
On January 19, 2021, ID Prospects noted Milicic Jr’s skillset included “size, length and agility, shooting + closeout attacking, defensive upside” as part of the site’s professional scouting report on the soon-to-be Cavalier.
It’s not hard to see why Milicic could become an intriguing fit for the modern NBA,” ID Prospects wrote. “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.
— Virginia Men's Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) May 6, 2021
According to VirginiaSports.com, Milicic Jr. averaged 13.3 points (44.7% shooting from the field including 33.3% from 3), 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 21 games for Orange Academy Ratiopharm of the German Pro B league this past season. Milicic Jr., who has citizenship in Croatia and Poland, also had stints with the Poland National Team and Ratiopharm Ulm in the BBL this year. With the latter, he played in three games alongside former UVA standout Isaiah Wilkins. The BBL is Germany’s top basketball league.
In addition to the first-year duo of Milicic Jr. and Murray, UVA added transfers Armaan Franklin and Jayden Gardner this offseason. The projected 2021-22 scholarship roster now stands as follows:
Point Guards: Kihei Clark (Sr), Reece Beekman (Soph)
Wings: Trey Murphy III (Sr)***, Kody Stattmann (Sr), Armaan Franklin (Jr), Carson McCorkle (Soph), Igor Milicic Jr. (Fr), Taine Murray (Fr)
Posts: Jayden Gardner (Sr), Francisco Caffaro (R-Jr), Kadin Shedrick (R-Soph)
*** – Murphy III has declared for the NBA Draft while maintaining his eligibility, meaning he can return to Virginia. According to Jon Rothstein, Murphy III has until July 7 to withdraw from the draft.