After a historic success last season, Buducnost VOLI Podgorica upgraded its roster by adding experienced veterans with something to prove. Shooting guard Edwin Jackson will be playing for his third Turkish Airlines EuroLeague team since 2015, looking for another chance to play extended minutes. Coty Clarke returns to the EuroLeague to prove he is the all-around threat he showed promise of being before injury cut short his only previous season in the competition. Veteran big man Earl Clark brings size, strength and huge experience to his first EuroLeague season at age 30. Aaron Craft, a team-first point guard with hustle written all over him, will be a 27-year old rookie himself. And 18-year-old Igor Drobnjak returns to his boyhood club to try to break into the lineup.
Buducnost has a four-headed monster on the perimeter, with Jackson, Craft, Nikola Ivanovic and Nemanja Gordic. While Craft is a pass-first point guard, Jackson brings speed, athleticism and a shooting touch to the group. Gordic and Ivanovic proved how well they function together last season, when leading Buducnost to the 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals. Both Gordic and Ivanovic can run the offense as point guards or knock down big shots as shooting guards. What should make Jackson and Craft fit well into Coach Aleksandar Dzikic's system, and what makes this foursome different than many others, is their defensive aggressiveness. Gordic and Craft are defensive aces who put up a great effort in creating pressure on the perimeter, while Ivanovic and Jackson are also very solid defenders. Petar Popovic is a young veteran of 22, while the Sehovic brothers, long-time starter Suad and the older Sead, are team-oriented swingmen with lots of experience. Winger Milic Starovlah, at 20 years old, hopes to make most out of his opportunities, too.
Coach Dzikic will have plenty of options to choose from in the front line, as well. Buducnost possesses plenty of athleticism at the small forward position with Coty Clark, who is good at getting to the basket, and Aleksa Ilic, whose big dunks could become a theme on the highlight reels this season. Earl Clark will likely play power forward first, but could also be used as a center paired with Buducnost's other power forward, Danilo Nikolic, who serves as a stretch-four due to his long-range shooting touch. Earl Clark's contributions will be of key importance for the team's front line production, and his presence might open things up for others. In addition to Clark, Buducnost has a pair of true centers who will share the duty under the rims. Zoran Nikolic, last season's starter, has an old-school inside game, efficient from close range and solid on the boards. He was also the team's leading shot-blocker, while Filip Barovic was a reliable back up who proved to be a game-changer, delivering some of the key performances last season for Buducnost.
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Two seasons ago Coty Clarke made his EuroLeague debut with Unics Kazan, but it did not go as planned. In a season plagued by injuries – and partly due to playing in the shadow of Keith Langford, who took Alphonso Ford Top Scorer trophy that season – Clarke barely managed to showcase his big-time scorer reputation. However, Clarke has done just that everywhere else he played so far in his professional career, and this 27-year old small forward is poised to finally do it on the biggest of stages, in the EuroLeague. It is also exactly what Buducnost needs: a go-to scorer who thrives at taking it to the hole. Clarke will also help the team's rebounding efforts, and his play might be a big factor in how Buducnost will fare this season.
It will be a historic season in the Montenegrin capital, where the EuroLeague returns after 15 years away. Coach Dzikic's team managed to keep the majority of its core intact, including every single one of its domestic players, and has carefully picked additions who should fit into a system that's well established. One thing working in Buducnost's favor is that expectations are not high, and every game will be seen as an invaluable experience for a squad that has several young and promising players. Buducnost's has traditionally been a hard away court to conquer, and the Montenegrin powerhouse hopes that is another thing EuroLeague teams will learn this season. With passionate and basketball-knowledgeable fans who are hungry to see Europe's star basketball players competing on the floor at Moraca Arena, it will surely be a season to remember in Podgorica.