Vodanovich preps for US scholarship

Basketballer Tom Vodanovich is heading to a prep school in the United States.
Basketballer Tom Vodanovich is heading to a prep school in the United States.

Tom Vodanovich is off to Geneva in January, but is unlikely to learn much about Switzerland.

Instead, the St Pat's Town basketball standout will be settling into life in small-town Ohio.

The 18-year-old will be spend the first few months of the year at the Spire Institute, an American prep school for student athletes, in Geneva, Ohio, about 72 kilometres east of Cleveland.

Spire, which contains one of the largest indoor sports complexes in the world, including six NBA dimension basketball courts, was recommended to Vodanovich by the basketball coach at Cleveland State University.

Vodanovich hopes attending a United States prep school will improve his chances of getting a basketball scholarship to an American university later in the year.

"I leave New Zealand on January 7 and will probably stay at Spire till their big spring break," Vodanovich said. "I can't wait - it will be awesome. I've heard lots of good things about their basketball.

"The academic programme will also give me a chance to improve my grades. I've been in touch with a few colleges [in the US] and sent some videos over and we will see what happens."

Vodanovich knows little about Geneva and will take life in Ohio as it comes. "I'm getting dropped off there and away I'll go."

The 2.02m Vodanovich is also relaxed about his role on the basketball court. He generally plays as a small forward in New Zealand but will play "where I'm put" in the US. "They tend to be bigger over there and I would be more than happy to play as a shooting guard or a forward."

Vodanovich, a Junior Tall Black representative this year, has had a memorable final school year, playing basketball in five countries. "It's been a wicked year."

His most recent overseas trip was this month, to Hawaii with a New Zealand Maori team - which included Lindsay Tait and Paora Winitana - to compete in an Asia Pacific tournament, against teams from Tahiti, China and two US universities, including Brigham Young in Hawaii.

"I was getting limited minutes [on court] but tried to make the most of that time I got. I thought I went all right and it was a bit more experience."

Vodanovich has also played for the Junior Tall Blacks in China and Germany this year, attended the Adidas Nations tournament in California and played in Melbourne.

He has also made a mark as a high jumper, setting meeting records for the McEvedy Shield and the Wellington regional schools championships.

He cleared 1.98 metres at both meetings, a height that would ensure he was competitive at the national secondary schools championships in Dunedin next month. However, he is uncertain whether he will make the trip to Dunedin.

Contact Tim Barton
Racing editor and college sport writer
Email: tim.barton@dompost.co.nz

The Dominion Post