BOSTON (CBS) — There’s a lot of hype surrounding Celtics prospect Ante Zizic, as the 20-year-old improves his game overseas in hopes of making it to the NBA next season.
According to the 6-foot-10 center, he’s already ready to make that jump.
“I think this year I have improved my game, I improved my body and gained experience,” Zizic told The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach in a phone interview. “So I think right now, I am ready for the NBA.”
The Celtics drafted Zizic with the 23rd overall pick last June, and with a roster already swamped with young players, the Boston brass felt it was best to stash him in Europe for a year to let him hone in on his skills. Zizic has done just that for the Darussafaka Dogus in the Euroleague, under the tutelage of former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt.
Playing both power forward and center, Zizic is averaging 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds over 23 minutes in 11 games for Dogus. He said he’s working on his mid-range game, and added that Boston’s biggest weakness at the moment, rebounding, is one of his best skills.
“I go on every rebound, so I think I can help on that, for sure I can,” Zizic said. “I can grab some bonus rebounds. I have a great work ethic and always will give my maximum.”
Statements like that must have Brad Stevens salivating at the thought of having another energetic and versatile big at his disposal. Zizic’s output in the competitive Euroleague has certainly caught the attention of the Celtics and their fans, and it sounds like he’ll be back stateside for next season.
“He just turned 20 in January, and he punishes grown men physically,” Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge told The Globe. “He hits hard and he’s a physical presence out there. As much as I loved Ante and believed in him, I was surprised how much success he had this early in Euroleague.”
Ainge said that once July 1 rolls around (the beginning of the new NBA year), the Celtics will sign Zizic to a contract. We’ll probably get our first glimpse of the big man in the summer league, and a stint with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League will likely follow. But the Celtics sound pretty happy with his progress overseas, and depending on what Danny Ainge can accomplish this summer, a spot on the NBA roster may not be far for Zizic.