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Two Serbs and protect (the ball): More initial thoughts on Lobo basketball's new roster

Jun. 7—For college teams, there's always a lot to digest in the first week of summer basketball practice.

Even more so for a program with all 16 players participating (the first full-roster participation summer practices in the Richard Pitino era), including eight newcomers on the court with their new teammates for the first time.

Trying not to overanalyze what was one very small sample size of an open practice (to media) on Wednesday is a fool's errand.

Nevertheless, there are two new Lobos who Pitino is getting asked about a lot — both before the media-attended practice and after local media saw the players in action.

Newcomers Jovan (pronounced "Yo-Vawn") Milicevic, the 6-foot-10, 260-pound freshman forward from Toronto who played this past season at Dream City Christian prep school in Glendale, Arizona, and Filip Borovicanin, the 6-9 transfer guard — yes, guard — from the University of Arizona by way of Belgrade, Serbia, both looked the part of not only college-ready bodies, but skill sets, too.

And with Milicevic's parents both being from Serbia, the pair bonded quickly.

In fact, when Borovicanin announced his commitment to UNM via social media in April, Milicevic posted on X: "Two Serbians. idemooo... Welcome Brother #GoLobos #Balkan."

Idemooo translates from Serbian to "Let's go."

Pitino tried to hold back showing too much excitement for Milicevic after the freshman's first couple days on campus, but the coach wasn't entirely successful.

"He is impressive. Really, really impressive," Pitino said of the forward whose 260-pound frame seems to be centered primarily in the two tree trunks he has for legs. "High level skill set. Cerebral. Can really shoot it. Can really pass it. (It's been) one day, but I haven't seen a whole lot of weaknesses. I really, really liked him a lot, a lot."

Borovicanin, who didn't see extended playing time in Tucson and who on paper projects as a forward, surprised onlookers in practice with his ability to play guard.

"Filip brings size and skill," Pitino said. "He is a legit 6-9 and he can play the 1, 2 and the 3. He can play the 4, but I don't think he's going to need to do that on this team."

Pitino added that Borovicanin is "an elite-level passer" and played in a Wildcats system that has a lot of similarities offensively to what the Lobos want out of him.

BALL HANDLING: OK, so you lose two guards in Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr., and will go from three small guards who could handle the ball to just returning Donovan Dent. Dent withstanding, where will the ball handling come from?

Pitino isn't concerned in light of true freshman point guard Kayde Dotson, who is expected to be the primary backup to Dent, as well as several others showing they are more than capable of handling the ball.

"Kayde can ball handle. Tru (Washington), Filip (Borovicanin), Braden (Appelhans), Q (Quinton Webb) is getting better at it," Pitino said. "So, I don't have a big concern with that."

He later realized he left out guard CJ Noland, the 6-4 transfer guard from North Texas, who is also an above average ball handler.

UNITED NATIONS: Pitino said the film room is like the United Nations as the Lobo roster has players from seven countries: United States, Canada, Finland, Guinea, Nigeria, Serbia and Tanzania.

CAMPING: The first of two editions of the summer Richard Pitino Basketball Camp begins Monday.

The three-and-a-half day camp open to rising third- through seventh-graders, boys and girls, is Monday through Thursday at the Pit and Rudy Davalos practice facility from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Wednesday and 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday. Lunch is provided the first three days. Cost is $250.

The camp is run by UNM coaches, staff, managers and current Lobo players and comes with a T-shirt and a basketball for each camper.

Online registration is closed, but on-site sign-ups are available.

The second camp, with online registration still open and with all the same details as above, runs June 24-27 and information can be found at richardpitinobasketballcamps.totalcamps.com.

CAMPING, PART 2: Can't make the four-day camp commitment? Former Lobo guard Anthony Mathis is holding a one-day camp on Monday — 9 a.m. to noon — at the ABC Prep basketball facility, 501 Main St. NW.

The game will feature instruction from Mathis and ABC Prep coaches and former college players Brandon Mason, Dairese Gary and J Hill.

The camp is open to boys and girls in grades 3-12 and costs $60 of or $50 prepay (call Mason at 505-288-6375 for information).