Unicaja is back in the Top 16 for the seventh consecutive season and it can thank Luka Zoric for part of that. Zoric has been one of Unicaja’s most pleasant surprises this season with his consist and aggressive play in his first Turkish Airlines Euroleague season. Zoric is a modern power forward with size, athleticism and a high basketball IQ, who has perfectly complemented Unicaja’s star center Joel Freeland around the baskets. Unicaja faces well-known foes in the Top 16 and Zoric looks ready to keep proving that he belongs at this level as a natural-born winner.
Even though Zoric had played two Euroleague seasons with Union Olimpija and Cibona, he had combined for just 34 minutes in the 2005-06 and 2007-08 campaigns. Born in Zadar, Crotaia, Zoric played for several clubs in his home country - and in one game with German side Braunschweig before he joined KK Zagreb in late 2008. Zoric flourished there and led Zagreb to back-to-back Croatian League titles in 2010 and 2011. He was also chosen as the 2010-11 Adriatic League MVP. In that time, Zoric became a regular member of the Croatian national team and still keeps improving at age 27.
His rock-solid fundamentals and effectiveness around the basket turn Zoric into a very hard to guard big man. He can take the mid-range shot, drive to the basket and finish with a dunk in traffic or just use his turnaround jumper or jump hook to operate in the paint. A very good rebounder at both ends, Zoric offers mobility and energy, reads the pick-and-roll very well and rarely makes mistakes - just 1.3 turnovers per game. His strength and hustle helped Unicaja lead all regular season teams in offensive (130) and total rebounds (380).
Indeed, Zoric has had a great impact on his team. He leads Unicaja in performance index rating (13.7 per game), blocks (1 bpg.), fouls drawn (3.7 per game) and offensive boards (2.5 orpg.). He trails only Freeland in scoring (11.1 ppg.) and total rebounds (6.2 rpg.) and is one of only four Unicaja players to take part in all 10 games.
Without any doubt, Zoric has proved that he belongs at this level and that he is a much better player than he was in his last Euroleague appearance in 2007-08. Right at the prime of his career, Zoric is under contract with Unicaja until the end of the 2013-14 season and has the chance to become the kind of player everybody needs in the Euroleague - a smart veteran with the right mix of experience, size and talent to be a silent leader. With Zoric quietly emerging as a star, Unicaja has every reason to target a place in the Playoffs – and beyond – this season.