This Soda Popped

Toni Soda's recruitment was basically locked up before he even got to Patterson School (N.C.). All the 7-footer needed to do was see the campus of the school that had recruited him in his native Croatia.

Barry Collier sealed the deal with Toni Soda when he took a trip to Croatia recently to meet with the 7-footer's family.

The Nebraska head coach was ecstatic with his second international big man in the last couple of years. Cornhuskers assistant Scott Spinelli got 6-foot-11 Australian Aleks Maric two years ago and the big Aussie averaged 8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as a freshman.

Patterson (N.C.) School coach Chris Chaney feels that Soda can be even better.

``He's only 17, is very skilled and has great hands," Chaney said. "He knows how to play."

Soda is 235 pounds and is more of a back-to-the-basket guy. One NBA scout compared him to Primoz Brezec, who is with the Charlotte Bobcats.

``I really think he'll be an NBA player down the road," added Chaney. "He's that good. You don't find too many 7-footers that can run the court like him. He's got a great jump hook, is skilled and is getting better every week."

``He's going to be able to go in at Nebraska and help them right away," Chaney continued. "If he had waited, he could have gone to any school he wanted."

However, Spinelli got it done prior to Soda arriving in the United States a month or so ago.

``He has a chance to start for us," Chaney said. "It's between him and (Arizona commit) Jordan Hill."

One Division 1 coach who saw Soda had this to say: ``He's got great hands, is an accomplished scorer inside, he's long and big and can be an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker. Nebraska got themselves a steal. He's a low-post scorer who wants to operate down low."

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