USF took a major step toward addressing its low-post deficiencies Saturday with a verbal commitment from 6-foot-10, 240-pound junior college standout Antun Maricevic.
Maricevic's non-binding pledge is widely deemed a steal for the Bulls, who finished 10-22 in Coach Brian Gregory's first season. A 20-year-old Croatia native, Maricevic (first named pronounced Ahn-TOON) visited USF's campus last weekend and also visited Tulsa. He said he was contemplating a trip to Nebraska before settling on USF.
The NCAA's spring signing period starts April 11.
"These two schools (USF and Tulsa) were the top because of how much they want me, how much they need me and the relationship with the coaches," Maricevic said. "I just got that feeling after I visited these two, there's no need to go on another visit. … I really think (USF) is the right decision."
Maricevic, who played his final prep season at Longmont (Colo.) Christian, averaged 15.5 points and 7.8 rebounds as a sophomore this past season at Casper (Wyo.) College, which finished 22-10.
He comes equipped with the brawn, low-post polish and soft shooting touch the Bulls mostly have lacked in recent years, as evidenced by this YouTube footage.
"Antun is special," said Brandon Goble of jucoadvocate.com. "Not only is he an unbelievable physical presence, but his work ethic is off the charts. I don't think Antun's ceiling has even come close to being realized yet."
USF's trio of big men combined to average fewer than 12 rebounds last season. Sixth man Isaiah Manderson, the Bulls' most viable low-post presence (8.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg), has exhausted his eligibility.
"I play hard," Maricevic said. "I'm not the most talented player in the world, but when I play, I play hard."