Southeast Missouri forward Milos Vranes is back in Cape Girardeau after an unforgettable experience this past summer.
Vranes, a senior at Southeast, proudly represented his country as a member of the Serbian National Basketball Team in the 2017 World University Games.
A native of Belgrade, Vranes first tried out for his native team at a camp in Denver, Colorado back in May. He made the final cut of 12 players, who later competed at the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan from Aug. 20-29.
Serbia finished fourth in the World behind Lithuania, the United States and Latvia. Vranes’ team played a total of 17 games in a month with eight at the World University Games.
“We were travelling a lot,” recalled Vranes. “We changed six airplanes, flew five different airlines and rode on 15 buses just travelling from place to place. It was amazing.”
Serbia completed the World University Games with a 5-3 record and advanced to the semifinals where it fell to the United States, 93-61. Serbia came just one win shy of a medal when it lost to Latvia, 81-74, in the consolation game.
Statistically, Vranes averaged 3.4 points and 2.9 rebounds, while shooting 42.9 percent from the field in seven contests at the World University Games.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Vranes said. “Playing for the country which is second in the World, second in Europe and second in the Olympics is a huge thing. I was working out the whole summer and was fortunate to earn one of the final roster spots after 25 players initially tried out for the team.”
Vranes played two tournaments in China leading up to the World University Games main event. He was one of four United States college players on the Serbian National Team along with Idaho State’s Novak Topalovic, Marshall’s Aleksa Nikolic and American University’s Andrija Matic.
“Now that it’s over it still hasn’t registered with me how much this team accomplished,” Vranes said. “It was so special just to be there and I dedicated every second of my summer to this. I keep thinking how amazing it was to finish fourth in the World.”
Outside of playing with members of his own team, Vranes had the opportunity to meet several Serbian greats, including Bogdan Bogdanovic (Sacramento Kings), Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves), Milos Teodosic (Los Angeles Clippers) and Aleksandar Djordjevic (Serbia Head Coach).
“It was unbelievable to guard [Bogdan] Bogdanovic for two quarters,” commented Vranes. “I’ll never forget it.”
One more thing Vranes enjoyed was spending time with his family as his parents were able to watch him play for the first time in three years.
“I am delighted that Milos made the Serbian National Team,” said Southeast head coach Rick Ray. “I could just feel the pride and enthusiasm coming through the phone when Milos informed me of the great news. This is a tremendous honor for Milos as he was able to play against top-notch competition. Being on the Serbian National Team did nothing but help him and our team improve from his experience.”
Vranes averaged 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in 31 contests for the Redhawks last season.
Southeast, which held its first practice Friday, tips off its 2017-18 season at home against Missouri Baptist on Nov. 10.