Duke checking in on Miroslav Jaksic

With three five star prospects already committed in the class of 2013, the Blue Devils may very well be finished recruiting for this year. Still, there may be a need for another big man. One of the more recent additions to the recruiting radar is Miroslav Jaksic who spoke to TDD about where his recruiting stands.

Before coming to the United States last year, how long had you lived in Canada?

Miroslav Jaksic: Since 2002. I moved to Canada from Serbia that year. I was born in the capital city of Serbia, Belgrade. We moved because of the Serbian War. It was myself, my dad, my mom, and my brother and sister.

Are you the oldest of the three?

Yes sir, I am. My brother and sister still live with my parents. It was tough for me to move away at first, but now I have a lot of people helping me feel more comfortable. I really appreciate my teammates, coaches, and everyone here. I think I'm doing well.

Did you play basketball growing up?

Actually, no. I played soccer growing up and didn't start playing basketball until we moved to Canada.

Were you always a bigger player?

I've always been kind of tall for my age. Then I really hit a growth spurt in fifth grade and have been growing steadily ever since.

So how tall are you now?

I'm right around 6-foot-11, and I'm hovering around 200 pounds, give or take.

How have you adjusted from Canadian basketball to the US?

Things are going well in that regard. The first year was a big rougher, but I now feel a lot more confident and comfortable and think I'm doing pretty well.

Are you on a weight training program?

I do a ton of workouts. I do a lot of on the court work, and then I work out five or six times a week in the weight room when we're not in season. When we're in-season, I am working out around three or four times per week in the weight room. And, of course, I do a lot of work on my game on the court.

What do your workouts entail?

I do a lot of stuff with my trainer from Canada, Coach Stewart. We do a lot of drills on the court, from dribbling to post work. With Coach Murray and my trainer at my high school, we do off the dribble moves both perimeter and post, just work a lot on my all around skill level.

Being in season, do you have any idea about your season averages?

I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but I know I'm averaging a double-double. I think my for my points I'm around 16, and my rebounds I'm around 12. Recently I had a kind of breakout game, and since then I've been double and triple teamed a lot, so I passed out of those to open teammates.

How much do you play in the post versus on the perimeter for your high school team?

For my high school team I mostly play in the post. We do pick and pop, pick and roll and if we play 2/3 zone teams. I'll play on the perimeter some since I can shoot it from outside. I can shoot to 3 point line. I'm a very good 3 point shooter for my size. I'm not sure of my percentage for high school since I'm in the post mostly, but I usually take 2 or 3 threes a game for my team.

What do you like to do off the court when you aren't practicing?

Off the court I really like spending time with my family, I'm very close with them and I like hanging out with my old friends. I also really like studying the game of basketball, sometimes on the internet and sometimes on TV.

When you are studying basketball, what kind of games are you watching?

Well I like to watch games on TV and on the internet. I'll watch old games and players on YouTube, now in this era, I like watching guys who have good skill levels like I do.

So what players do you watch on YouTube?

From this era I watch Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki, but from older generations i'll watch Keith Van Horn, Tim Duncan, skilled bigs, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Toni Kukoc. Big men like that.

Are you a big Vlade Divac fan?

Yeah, I like Vlade a lot, he was a tremendous player, he played for a couple teams in the NBA, he's very popular in my country.

The games on TV you watch, are they mostly college or NBA?

I watch both. NBA I like the Thunder and the Mavs. For college I just watch whatever is on when I'm watching and I try to study the players.

Who are the teams you have enjoyed watching in college when you've had a chance to watch on TV this year?

I really like watching Duke, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Iowa State, and VCU. Those are the main ones I've been watching.

Let's start with Michigan and Michigan State, where you're opinions of those programs?

You know, they are both good schools. I have nothing but good things to say about them. They have good coaches and they are both doing well.

What do you think about Duke since you've been watching them?

With Duke, I've watched them I would say anywhere from 8-10 games or so already. I've also watched their stuff on YouTube, like their big guy, Ryan Kelly. He's a very skilled big, and Mason Plumlee too, he's a good big man to watch too.

What do you think of Ryan's and Mason's play?

Yeah I like what they do with them just like other teams who have good skilled big men, I like them too.

Which other players stick out that you've seen this year?

In college, Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa State, Creighton has skilled bigs, those are some that pop into my head.

I saw a published report that Michigan has been recruiting you pretty regularly...

Yes, I have heard from there a lot more recently, and they've been showing me some love.

Has it been Coach Beilein recruiting you or assistant coaches?

It's been mainly assistant coaches, but Coach Beilein was there at my last game. I was mad that we lost that game though. We were up for most of the game and then we went down by two with like 50 seconds and then we ended up losing in overtime, I wasn't happy.

You sound like a competitive guy Miro…

Yeah, it was a good experience for us as a team though, we are a very young team right now, with a lot of sophomores. We learned from this experience and will use it for motivation going into the season.

It's been reported you are thinking about going the prep school route after this season, is that accurate?

Yes, that is an option for me, but right now I'm just focusing on this season and seeing how this season goes and then after the season is over I will sit down with my family and see what the next step will be and we will see if that's an option.

Are you thinking prep school so you can add strength or do you want to go to improve your grades?

I'm going to develop my strength and as a player as well. Really, it's just have more time to work on my game.

Is it an option for you academically to go to college after this year if you decide to?

Yes I think it would be, right now I have a 3.1 GPA.

Have any schools talked with you about coming in at the end of this year and doing a redshirt year?

A couple schools have, but I don't know about that option right now. There's a couple schools who might want me to come in this year but right now it's all a big question mark, I really want to see how this year goes and then make a decision. I really think I might want to go prep for a year, but we're going to have to see how this year goes, and make my decision after this year.

Sounds like you favor the prep school route over the redshirt year, is that accurate?

I think it's just me, but if I think that the prep school year will help me more then i'll do it. If I need to redshirt at any school I think that would be good too, to get to practice with my team and get ready for what would be my freshman year.

What are you going to evaluate as you think about whether to go prep for a year or go redshirt at a college if both are options after this year?

It's a hard question to answer, i'll see how it goes after this year.

Another published report has Duke istarting to show interest in you. Who have you talked with from the staff?

I talk with the assistant coaches, Nate James and I talked once with Coach K. One of the assistants, Coach Wojo was at my last game. I didn't talk with him after the game because it was a tough loss for us. I haven't talked with Coach Wojo on the phone yet.

When did the conversation with Coach K happen?

About a week and a half ago. He just told me they had interest in me and they liked my skill level and they were going to come watch me play, which they did.

Do you know if Coach K is going to come watch you play?

Right now I don't know.

What's your interest level in Duke now that they are recruiting you?

I'm interested in Duke, I am definitely interested in them.

Are you planning any visits anytime soon to see any schools?

Visits right now I don't really know, maybe after the season. I haven't made any schedule to take any visits right now. It's about taking care of business with my grades and winning games.

Who are you going to play AAU with?

Last year I played with the Michigan Hurricanes and I think i'll play with them again this year too.

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