Rakocevic Spring Ready

Rising junior Nick Rakocevic wants to prove he can play with the best. He talks about his spring outlook and gives the latest in his recruitment.

Spring has sprung and that means AAU basketball is back in full swing. One player who has an opportunity to raise his already ascending stock is St. Joe's 2016 big man Nick Rakocevic. Rakocevic, who is playing this spring with the Mac Irvin Fire 16U team, is looking to continue his solid play from this past high school season and capture the attention of scouts and college coaches across the country.

The adjustment from his high school team to his AAU team has been almost seamless, and Rakocevic feels like he and his teammates are ready to make some noise this spring and summer.

"I love these guys a lot and it's been real fun playing with them," he said of his Fire 16U teammates. "I definitely think we're one of the best teams out there right now and it's been great running with them. We have a lot of guys who can do a lot of damage this year."

Rakocevic is used to playing on a team stocked with talent at the guard positions, so the philosophy is somewhat similar as far as his role for the Fire this spring.

"Right now I just need to block shots, get rebounds, and be a big presence down low, play the post-up game, and then maybe get some outside game in when I've done those other things," he said.

Often times players finish their high school seasons and let up on their focus, conditioning, and intensity. Rakocevic took a little time to rest after the season, but he's doing his best to push forward and grow into a better player.

"I just need to be more aggressive and keep my stamina up. I need to keep going after it like I did during the high school season and I'll be successful," he said. "Right now my conditioning is a little rough and I need to get it back up to speed, but it's coming along as I keep playing."

Something that both the high school season and the early portion of the AAU season has taught him is that strength in the post is invaluable. If Rakocevic is going to attain his goals, he knows that physical conditioning and adding weight are two "musts" for him.

"I definitely need to get stronger," he said. "I'm trying to be one of the best players in the nation in my class and prove that I can play at this level. I want to be a complete player."

It's not unexpected to see a post player with Rakocevic's size and skill get some significant interest early, but Rakocevic admitted that the early offers did catch him off guard a bit.

"I was surprised about getting all the offers I did," he said. "I wasn't expecting it and it was a blessing. Going as far as we did and having the year I did was great."

With offers from Miami, Illinois, Creighton, and Wisconsin, Rakocevic is also picking up interest from other schools at a rapid pace. He recently identified Florida, Indiana, Iowa, and Oregon as schools he would like to get out and visit soon.

He said, "It's just schools that I can get to when I have time that have interest in me. Some of the schools are all over, but I'm trying to visit schools as much as I can. I feel like a few schools are close to offering but I'm not going to be upset at this point if they don't offer yet."

A few of the schools he will be visiting have been the ones showing increased interest. In addition, he's also been hearing from Duke, a program with a rising presence in Chicago.

"Definitely Florida, Iowa, Oregon, and Xavier are schools that have been more interested lately," he said. "It's been awesome to hear from Duke, too."

Handling such an active recruitment can be overwhelming for someone just wrapping up his sophomore season, but Rakocevic is taking it all in stride and does his best to stay grounded throughout the process.

"I just need to stay focused," he said. "It's been a great ride and a blessing and I just need to stay humble and take it one day at a time."

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