Two days ago, Clint Jackson told us about a player in Slovenia by the name of Erazem Lorbek who was reportedly being recruited by the UNC staff. Whenever we want to pursue a story in Europe, we turn to our overseas correspondent John Ervin.
John conducted numerous interviews in Slovenia yesterday, despite difficult language barriers, talking with Lorbek, his coach, the team's PR director, etc. to produce the following report.
Class of 2002
6-9, 227 pounds
Lorbek said he plans on attending a U.S. college. His three top schools are UCLA, Notre Dame and North Carolina, refuting reports that Georgia is involved. Despite inquires from others, Lorbek says he is only officially talking to those three schools.
All three send him e-mail and mail frequently and he has had e-mail or mail from UNC almost every day -- many e-mails from Coach Doherty, he noted, and confirmed that the Carolina staff has called. "UNC is my favorite at this time," he said, adding that he has watched the Tar Heels play on television. It is, however, very early in his decision-making process and he said there have been "no scholarships offered yet." Our sources indicate that while Lorbek is not one of UNC's top targets for the junior class, he is certainly a player they are quite interested in.
Lorbek said he envisions himself as a college combination forward, playing either on the wing or in the post. Many scouts who have seen him play liken his game to the NBA's Toni Kukoc, and while Lorbek agrees with the comparison, he also mentioned Predrag Stojakovic (who had a breakout year with the Sacramento Kings).
He's athletic and fleet of foot on the court, though has learned to prefer the half court game. His strengths are ball-handling (can bring the ball up the court), shooting (knocks down threes and has consistent range out to 15 feet), and frontcourt versatility (playing out on the perimeter or in the post snagging rebounds and blocking shots).
The Slovenian learned the game from his father, Rado, a former professional and the current GM of national champion Olympia BC Ljubljana. "I want Erazem to go to college for a chance to play in the States," Rado Lorbek said.
The elder Lorbek's only concern about Erazem heading to the collegiate ranks is that it'll be a sharp decrease in games played, believe it or not. Erazem plays over 100 games each year with four teams - his high school team, Slovenian junior national club team, Slovenian cadets teams and practicing with his father's Olympia BC Ljubljana squad (he can't compete in games because it is a professional league). He's averaging about 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Lorbek has already received quite a few impressive awards. He was named the MVP of the 2000 Albert Schweitzer Tournament (France) where his Slovenian Junior National Team won the championship. He was named the Final Four MVP two straight years, as his team won the 1999-00 and the 2000-01 Slovenian Cadets National Championships. His squad also won the 2000-01 Slovenian Junior Championship and Lorbek was given the "First Five" award (best five) for his junior national club team's division.
Telebasket provided the following scouting report. It's important to note the this was written just after Lorbek turned 16 -- and he has since gained about 20 pounds.
Excellent athletic talent, has a good body frame for the forward spot ... Has speed and excellent leaping ability.
He handles the ball fairly well and has excellent vision. Can pass the ball in a two post game and reverse it to the weak side. He shows a soft touch; with his back to the basket can put it on the floor and is able to hit the jump-hook shot off the dribble or catching the ball in the lane. Can also hit the fade-away turn-around jumper. Likes to penetrate from the high post and take the pull-up "J". He is reliable from 12-15ft. in but he can also hit the three. Average offensive rebounder.
Plays with attitude and competitiveness. Has huge wingspan that allows him to deflect passes and grab rebounds. Lacks some weight. Struggles containing opponent's drive and can be pushed around by heavier players.
If UNC's interest in Lorbek continues, stay tuned to this site for details ...