Markovic taking her game to next level
Nevena Markovic was born in Serbia, bred on basketball.
Her dad, Zoran, played professionally in Serbia. At a young age he introduced his daughter to the game.
As a child she looked up to stars like ex-Los Angeles Laker Vlade Divac on the Serbian national team.
"It was my childhood dream to play for the national team," Markovic said. "I always thought it was something I would love to do."
She is about to realize that opportunity.
Markovic, a former All-Area player at Glenbard South coming off her sophomore season at IUPUI, this summer will represent her native country as a member of the Serbian women's basketball team at the U20 European Championships.
Markovic will travel to Europe later this month, playing in exhibition games for Serbia in Italy and Serbia before the championships July 4-14 in Turkey.
The Markovic family came to the United States from Serbia when Nevena was 10 years old, settling in Wheaton. World Relief helped Nevena and her family reunite with her mom's parents and two sisters in December 2003.
She averaged 19.4 points and 9.4 rebounds her senior year at Glenbard South and became the first in her family to attend college in the United States.
Markovic thought the opportunity to play for Serbia passed her by once she came to the United States, but she said a few scouts saw her play while at Glenbard South. She went through the tryout process, sent videos. Her AAU season prevented her from playing while in high school. A partial tear of her MCL cost Markovic a shot last year.
Now is her time, and she knows to expect a different type of basketball than the one she's familiar with.
"Most of the girls play professionally over there," Markovic said. "It will be a different style. Over there, they really don't have true post players. It's going to be interesting."
Markovic has made an impact at IUPUI, named the Summit League Freshman of the Year the 2011-12 season. She missed the first seven games as a sophomore with a foot injury but came back to average 11 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks during the conference tournament.
This year IUPUI went 20-12, and made its first postseason appearance since joining Division I in 1998.
"It wasn't the best season I ever had, but as a team we did really well," Markovic said. "Personally, I could have done better, but we exceeded expectations."
This summer will provide more than a basketball business trip for Markovic; it's also a journey home.
She will get a couple days to stay with an aunt and uncle in Belgrade. She remains connected with them through Skype, but this will be the first time they get to see her play basketball since she was 8 or 9 -- "a long time ago."
Markovic is pursuing a degree in Sports Management but would jump at the chance to play professionally. The WNBA is the ultimate goal, but she didn't hesitate when asked if she'd consider playing in Europe.
"Definitely, no question about it," Markovic said. "I think this will help me with my confidence level. I'll be playing against players who are basically professionals."