Dušan Ristic: “Since I played with Deandre I would have to choose him over Doncic”

2018-04-10T12:22:17+00:00 2018-04-10T12:27:40+00:00.

Dionysis Aravantinos

10/Apr/18 12:22


After finishing his final season with the Arizona Wildcats, Dušan Ristic talked to Eurohoops about his future, Arizona, the NBA, Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton as well as the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.

By Dionysis Aravantinos / info@eurohoops.net

Dušan Ristic has been one of the most productive European centers of the last four years in the NCAA tournament, playing for the Arizona Wildcats. Silently but efficiently the 22-year old Serbian had an impressive senior year, averaging 12.2 points, and 6.9 rebounds per game, leading his team to back to back titles in the Pac-12 conference.

Even though Arizona had a great squad, with a backcourt duo of Deandre Ayton (possible No. 1 overall pick) and Dušan Ristic as well as high hopes for the NCAA’s March Madness tournament, the Wildcats got eliminated in the first round. One bad game and an early exit. “The season did not end the way we wanted it to, despite all the expectations we had from our team. At the same time, we had a lot of success this year, winning both the Pac-12 regular season championship and the Pac-12 tournament championship. Like you mentioned, one bad game and our season was over. That is, however, what makes college basketball special.”

After winning the Pac-12 championship in 2017 with Lauri Markkanen, in 2018 Dušan won it next to Deandre Ayton. He talked to Eurohoops about this feeling: “It is an unbelievable feeling. It is something that many people in Europe do not pay much attention to, but here it is a big deal. It is tough to win back to back years both the regular season and the tournament title, and that is something that this team achieved.”

Throughout these four years in Arizona, the 2.13cm (7-0) center has had many different experiences on and off the court. On the court, we asked him about one moment he will remember for the rest of his life: “It is difficult to choose only one moment because I have had plenty of amazing experiences here at the University of Arizona. If I have to pick one, that would be the home game against Utah, when I made a three-pointer to put us up one point with only a minute left in the game. The whole arena exploded, and I was pumped up, like never before.”

Dušan Ristic also became the player with the most wins in Arizona’s history, passing Kaleb Tarczewski and Matt Mueuhlebach for the No. 1 spot. As he said, this was an incredible moment: “It felt amazing. Making any accomplishments at a program like Arizona is a big privilege and honor. I’m extremely proud to be a part of Arizona’s rich basketball history.”

In his freshman year with the squad, Dušan was averaging 3.4 points in only 8.6 minutes a night. Every single year, however, he was continually improving and gaining more opportunities, and his game eventually elevated to another level. At 22 years of age, Ristic wants to have a steady improvement. “In modern basketball, it is really important to be versatile and be able to adjust to different types of teams, coaches, and basketball philosophies. One of my primary goals is to keep improving all of the segments of my game while also working on my body and getting stronger. The key to playing basketball at a high level is to have a professional approach all the time, and that is precisely the thing that I will be focused on moving forward.”

Even if he would have liked to stay at the University of Arizona and play another year with the Wildcats, he can’t because he is a senior. The next step for Dušan Ristic is going to be… I want to pursue the NBA dream and try to sign a professional contract with any NBA team. The next few months will determine whether I will accomplish that or not. Anyhow, my goal is to play basketball as long as I can and to have fun while playing.”

The 22-year old is currently finishing his education in Arizona while playing basketball at a very high level. When asked about what he would recommend to other European players moving to the States to play sports, he said the following: Education is very important because the length of a professional basketball career is short, and life goes on when everything is said and done. I highly recommend and support all the international basketball players that want to come to the US and play basketball to further continue their education.”

In this past season, he had the chance of playing with Deandre Ayton, who could be the next ‘big thing’ in the NBA. In the question ‘what makes Ayton so special’ he kept it simple: “Everything. His body, strength, basketball skills, IQ, you name it.”

To the Luka Doncic – Deandre Ayton debate and who he would choose No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft, he told Eurohoops the following: “Both of them are great basketball players and future NBA all-stars, but since I played with Deandre I would have to choose him. He has proven himself this season, while I haven’t had a chance to play, practice, against or with Luka.”

He may be in the States, he may be playing with the Arizona Wildcats as well as studying, but he told us that when he has the chance he watches the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague: “I do, but much less than when I was in Europe. My basketball and academic obligations do not leave me a lot of free time, especially during the hours when the EuroLeague’s games are played. But I always like to check the results at least.”

Finally, he also predicted the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four teams that will head to Belgrade. “My random guess would be CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce, Real Madrid, and Zalgiris Kaunas.”

Tags NBA