Basketball, Sports

Hurricanes basketball teams sign talented pair of international players

The men and women’s basketball teams added two talented international prospects on Wednesday who should battle veterans for playing time next season. Australian guard Dejan “DJ” Vasiljevic orally committed to the Hurricanes back in January but just officially signed his letter of intent to play for Head Coach Jim Larrañaga’s squad, while Head Coach Katie Meier added wing Sarah Mortensen of Denmark.

Vasiljevic joins Miami’s top-15 2016 class that includes five-star forward Dewan Huell, four-star guard Bruce Brown and four-star center Rodney Miller. The former captain of the U-17 Australian team has fared well in multiple international tournaments, recently averaging 16.3 points on 48-percent shooting, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in the U20 National Championships.

“DJ is a tough, hard-nosed defender with a unique set of offensive skills which allows him to fill up the basket from deep range. He has a high basketball IQ and a great feel for the game,” Larrañaga said in a statement. “We are excited to have DJ join the Hurricanes program. We like recruiting student-athletes who come from winning situations and DJ has proven himself to be a great competitor in championships on the international level.”

Vasiljevic will compete with Brown, Ja’Quan Newton and Rashad Muhammad for playing time next season. The 6-foot-2 combo guard can drive to the basket and pull up for a jump shot, but also has the court vision to play at point guard.

The women’s team gets Mortensen, a highly rated wing who excels at the “little things,” according to Meier.

“She consistently, 100 percent of the time, battles. She wins the little fights on the basketball court,” Meier said in a statement. “She’ll win the box out. She’ll sneak by someone and get a backdoor cut. So, mentally, she’s always competing on little things. I think it was a huge need for us to bring in someone who can have that mental intensity towards the game.”

Mortensen, a four-star prospect and the No. 15 international player in the class of 2016 on ProspectsNation.com, has also had success in top tournaments outside of the U.S. The 6-foot-1 wing played in three international FIBA competitions for Denmark, mostly recently the 2015 FIBA U18 European Championship Division B. Mortensen led all players in the tournament with an 85.7 field-goal percentage (18-of-21) and averaged 14 points and 8.4 rebounds over five games in the tournament.

The men and women’s teams are coming off successful seasons that saw both programs reach the NCAA Tournament in the same year for just the third time in school history. The men’s team lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual champion Villanova, while the women’s team fell in the first round to South Dakota State.

Feature image courtesy Pixabay user RondellMelling.

April 14, 2016

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Mark Singer


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