‘It’s a really special feeling’: High school students sign to play basketball with UMass
WILBRAHAM, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A basketball player at Wilbraham-Monson Academy signs his national letter of intent to play at UMass Amherst before he plays a single game in the U.S.
Many in the Wilbraham-Monson Academy community know the name of class of 2022 graduate and current duke basketball star Kyle Filipowski and in a matter of hours, they will hear the name Luka Damjanac, a post-grad student from Austria who breathes basketball.
“I started about eight or nine years ago for the under 12 age group in Vienna,” said Damjanac. “I just developed from there and had some good coaches there.”
The 18-year-old has been part of several basketball clubs overseas, and even played for the Bosnian national team.
Months ago, he decided he wanted to go to college in the U.S., But first wanted to show his talent at the high school level.
“He and his father reached out to us just by email,” noted Mike Mannix. “And then, maybe about four or five Zoom calls later, he committed to us after kind of getting to know one another.”
WMA boys basketball head coach Mike Mannix told Western Mass News Damjanac participated in preseason workouts.
One day, one of his teammates saw his talent and got him on the radar of his father, UMass Amherst men’s coach Frank Martin.
“I think that gave Luka a lot of confidence that…this coaching staff knows me really well,” expressed Mannix. “Ins and outs, strengths and weaknesses, and I think that kind of kickstarted the relationship.”
Now, before a single regular season game is played, Damjanac signed his national letter of intent Wednesday to play for the Minutemen next year.
“It’s a really special feeling to get some acknowledgement from such a great program and such a great place,” added Damjanac. “Words can barely explain how I felt in that moment.”
We will see if Damjanac makes it to the NBA in the future.
For now, he hopes his only season at WMA is a slam dunk.
“I plan to help our team win a lot of games, as many games as possible and to hopefully compete for a championship,” said Damjanac. “I just want to give it all out there and play my hardest.”
Damjanac makes his U.S. bebut Friday night against Northfield Mount Hermon, as his memorable basketball journey continues.
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