Full Breakdown of Gonzaga to Utah State transfer Pavle Stosic | Sports

The roster building for first-year Utah State men’s basketball head coach Jerrod Calhoun is inching toward its conclusion as the 14th member of the 2024-25 roster formally committed to USU just a few short days ago. Former Gonzaga power forward and Serbian international, Pavle Stosic will join the Aggies and create an interesting offseason battle for playing time in the frontcourt.

Stats for European prospects are often difficult to find and usually don’t come in large volume. Stosic played sparingly for most of his teams or in shorter competitions such as the 2021 U18 European Challengers (only five games played). But here’s the full sample size of available statistics from 2020 until his most recent season at Gonzaga (small note on the table, the season at Gonzaga is split in two to separate the two exhibitions he appeared in — the team’s inter-squad preseason scrimmage and exhibition against a lower division school).

Stosic Stats

Those aren’t exactly mind-blowing numbers. In addition to not having a ton of volume (the only two rows that represent him playing volume minutes were the U18 FIBA and the 2022-23 Levitec Huesca), the numbers themselves aren’t all that great. His shooting splits of 35.7 / 15.9 / 72.1 are probably the worst of it as they inspire very little confidence.

This is why any analysis of Stosic has to begin with the overused descriptor of “raw prospect.” There’s not much evidence of plug-and-play ability. If he does step in and contribute from day one it’ll be because of significant and dang near immediate improvements.

What Stosic could eventually bring to the table are the traits of being an all-around, modern power forward who fits very well in Jerrod Calhoun’s transition-heavy system.

The definition of “modern power forward” we’ll be working with here is a forward capable of being at least decent at every skill a PF might need to have at the collegiate level, which is quite a lot. Being an in-between position bridging the gap between guards and centers, college power forwards need to be capable of surviving defensively against opposing four-guard lineups, defend bigger post players when the other team goes big, space the floor so his center teammate has room to work in the post, and even have some perimeter skills so he’s not just a guy standing behind the 3-point line.

Most guys only have a couple of those things but the rare prospect pops up with the ability to do all of it. Stosic, like most, isn’t and won’t be elite at all of them (if he were, he wouldn’t have made it to a second year of college) but the ability to be the jack of all trades makes for a potentially dangerous weapon.

Defense is where some of the weaker aspects of his game are — though there is one major potential strength — so we’ll start with that so we can end on a high note. The biggest red flags from some of Stosic’s film are his defensive reps from Gonzaga’s preseason intra-squad scrimmage last year. Maybe there’s some slack to be given since it wasn’t an “official” game, but there are fans in the stands, referees and it’s being broadcast. Stosic shouldn’t be going half speed like he looked on a few of these plays.

The first couple of clips here are a bad and a good enough. The offensive player gets the bucket on both but one shows much more competence on defense than the other. In the first clip, Stosic doesn’t box out well enough, very much a hustle thing in this case, and is then simply cast aside to allow what would have been an easy putback were it not for some help defense (as a note for the clip, Stosic is #24 in blue and starts the clip right around the charge circle in the paint).

In this second one, Stosic’s man gets the post hook to go, but Stosic didn’t give up a ton of ground and contested the shot as well as you’re going to hope to see.

In another pair of clips, we see the highs and lows of Stosic guarding the perimeter. In this first one, he simply gets blown by with very little effort. To cut Stosic a bit of slack, the guy who gets by him is a guard with a lot more speed than most players he’ll defend. But it does show the limits of his versatility on defense.

When not matched up against much faster players, we can see Stosic shine a bit more. Two clips show him defending rather well, even though he technically saw a bad result in both of them. But on one he forced his man into a rushed baseline hook shot and the other was a suspect foul call on what would otherwise have been a block. Looking beyond what the box score says, we see Stosic using all of his 6-foot-9, 215-pound frame to play good defense against opposing forwards.

Speaking of blocks, this is probably the area of highest potential for Stosic. While not a bounce-out-of-the-gym athlete, he does have solid vertical ability, aided by the aforementioned 6-foot-9 length. There’s great potential for being able to bring weakside shot-blocking and help defense. His instincts are solid and his technique can be refined to avoid fouling too much. Stosic isn’t going to be a league-leading shot-blocker, but at his peak he could average around one swat per game, making him a defensive threat in at least one way.

Having the ability to impact the game on defense in concert with some of the offensive skills we’ll go over in a moment is a bigger deal than you’d expect. A lot of coaches without access to a two-way forward, have to pick between putting a good offensive player out at the four, or a defensive specialist and live with sacrificing one side of the floor. Danny Sprinkle faced this problem a lot last year, often having to choose between having Josh Uduje on the floor with Great Osobor as a small-ball center, a good offensive lineup but one that struggled against bigger teams. The other choice often being moving Osobor to power forward but bringing out Kalifa Sakho, a defensively solid lineup but a little lackluster on offense. This problem is part of why when Isaac Johnson was playing at a high level the Aggies were at their absolute peak on both ends of the court.

Shifting toward Stosic’s offensive skills, we find his highest areas of potential. There’s a dash of everything on that side of the court. Shooting, rim finishing, transition scoring, slashing, passing, pretty much anything you’d want. A reminder though, Stosic’s shooting percentages pretty clearly show this is a developing part of his game. But the soft touch he’s shown on a lot of his shots are a good sign.

To put an optimistic spin on those shooting percentages, probably the other most encouraging thing is that in the one season where he saw the floor on a consistent basis and had a real role — the 2022-23 season with Huesca — he shot 50 percent from the field. There’s also the fairly encouraging 72 percent on free throws which is by no means bad.

The area where Stosic is potentially really exciting, especially when playing under Calhoun, is his transition ability. Aside from his potential to get out and run as most forwards are trained to be able to do, Stosic has the ability to grab a rebound or steal and start the fast break by himself and be a legitimate threat as the ball-handler on the break. Aggie fans were a bit spoiled seeing Osobor able to sprint down the court with the ball, but it’s a fairly rare skill for 6-foot-9 forwards to do anything more than running in a straight line when dribbling the ball.

Having these skills makes Stosic a high-potential player. And with three years of eligibility left, plus a potential redshirt season if he opts to use it, there’s a lot of time to iron out the things that are holding him back, fine-tuning his shooting mechanics and improving his frame and footspeed to maximize defensive versatility.

Year one there’s not likely much to be seen from Stosic. With a lot of veteran players on the team, a young, raw prospect is less likely to see the floor. What could make it far more likely is the fact that Utah State’s other two power forwards are true freshman Isaac Davis and sophomore Karson Templin who saw only a slightly larger role with USU last year than Stosic had with Gonzaga. Calhoun may opt to play guys like Dexter Akanno and Johnson at power forward over all three of the young “true” PF’s most of the time, but there will be some minutes available. If Stosic can quickly improve and flash more of his potential, the minutes are there to be earned.

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