By Peter Toth
This is Novi Sad, an average town of Northern Serbia where I managed to get to a game between the local team, Novi Sad Stars and Mega Vizura, a team from the neighboring Sremska Mitrovica, famous for his youngsters. This is an U16 game with 15-year old boys playing and I watch, bit bored, as the teams come to court. First the guests and then the local squad, one by one, and then my attention is attracted. The Novi Sad center has to duck through the door, bending deep down under the doorway, he emerges from the locker room and there we have a boy literally head and shoulders above the whole competition.
As the game begins, and the young center, huge and lanky with a boyish, child-like face, starts rebounding, tremendously, unstoppably. There is no chance for the opponent team, every rebound ends up in his long arms and, although he misses some shots, thanks to his towering stature, he finally scores them all. One hit comes after the other, and he ends up in 28 pts at the end of the game. But meanwhile he is blocking like a wall, a brick wall, insurmountable, if he does not catch the shot, his tree-like hands create such an embarrassment on the attack that there is no escape from a failed shot. I watch him breathless, missing some balls, and sometimes pushed aside, but resulting in a nice double-double at the end, so I ask the others around me about him. I’m told he was, as usual practice in Serbia, just “playing up”, with the older generation.
He is Lazar Scekic, 13 years old (25. 03. 2001) boy practicing with the 15 year old team and I immediately decide to talk to him. As I approach Lazar, who, except for this towering body, looks like a shy little school-boy, he looks down on me with an embarrassed smile as I hardly reach his shoulders.
- I am 13, and have just topped 6’10’ with 187 pounds and a size 16 shoe. I have been playing basketball for about five years now. Having started with swimming and handball, I grew so fast that, when with 9 years I topped 5’10”, basketball was just a must. Otherwise it runs also in the family, my dad was a player in the 1990’s, playing center not only in Serbia, but also internationally, in German, Czech and Hungarian teams.
I had started playing in my hometown with the Stars (the local team) and have been staying with them ever since. Invited to trials by teams like Fenerbrahce and Grand Canaria, I had achieved promising results and they even asked me to stay, but I had to avert these offers. At present I wanted to stay home, concentrate on studies and finish school. I have to learn a lot, need confidence and strength, practice dribble and run, run and run on the court. But I just enjoy to rule under the rim, the world transforms and I feel like I can achieve everything. I would really like to be part of a great Euroleague team once and learn and improve to be as good and strong and possible developing into an unbeatable center like Dwight Howard.”
He’s got every chance to do so. With his tremendous size, which, as we know is the only thing that cannot be taught, and an amazing determination, he is on the best way to grow beyond his bodily size. And what’s more, he is not alone, he has a brother, who with his 8 years of age has already reached 5’ 3”, so look out for Novi Sad, there is even more to come….