The Cairns Taipans have signed their last local player and are pleased to welcome forward George Blagojevic from the Marlins to the Taipans roster. The talented forward graduated from the University of Hartford in May, and quickly signed with the Marlins upon returning home to Australia, with a view to join the Taipans and begin his basketball career.
Regularly touted as “one to watch,” Blagojevic was awarded a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport before being recruited by the NCAA Division I school to play for the Hartford Hawks, where as a senior he averaged 14.3 points and 7.5 rebounds, shooting the ball at 56.2 per cent.
He completed his collegiate career by being named to the 2019 America East All-Conference Second Team, which came after being named the America East Player of the Week for leading the Hawks to two straight wins with averages of 27 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in December.
The 22-year old capped his time with the Hawks with totals of 1,032 points and 578 rebounds – earning him a spot on Hartford’s 1,000-Point/500-Rebound Club, a small and elite group that consists of just 16 players in the school’s history.
Originally from Geelong, Blagojevic boasts a long basketball history with Taipans assistant coach Jamie O’Loughlin and signed up to play for his Marlins squad in his anticipated return home. In his QBL debut, Blagojevic averaged 12.2 points and 7.5 rebounds, finishing the regular season with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds against Gladstone.
Alongside O’Loughlin, Blagojevic also represented Australia with the Emerging Boomers at the World University Games last month, before making the QBL semi-finals.
Taipans Head Coach Mike Kelly said that the Blagojevic was someone that O’Loughlin had flagged early as potential Taipans talent that could become a rising star in the NBL.
“I knew George from watching him in college on video – you always keep an eye on the Australians. But Jamie knew him personally, had coached him as a junior and brought him up as a Marlins player, as well as a possible Taipans player. Since he got to Cairns we’ve been able to watch him on the court every day and he’s been fantastic,” said Kelly.
“For a bigger player, he moves really well. We see him as a three man, who in college was playing the four (position). But that’s his future – playing at the three, defending the three and being a perimeter player for us on offense. He needs to continue to develop, and we’re really looking forward to giving him that opportunity.”
The Taipans have one remaining import spot left on their roster, with George Blagojevic joining Scott Machado, Cameron Oliver, Majok Deng, Nate Jawai, Kouat Noi, Jarrod Kenny, Mirko Djeric Fabijan Krslovic and Anthony Fisher.