Welcome to the top 15! I would first like to apologize for missing a day yesterday. I had to work Saturday which typically means I have the following Monday off. I planned to get all the write-ups for the week completed yesterday, but I was called in to work. That’ll happen on these big jobs.
Anyways, Boston College makes their first appearance on the countdown with power forward Nik Popovic coming in at #15. Popovic is a nice story among ACC players. At one point, he was ranked #401 in the 2016 recruiting class. The 6’11 Bosnian moved to the US at the age of 18 to attend BC, having to learn new rules and style of play along the way while having zero family or friends by his side. Fast forward three years, he has made himself into one of the most efficient and underrated forwards in the ACC. Barring any sort of injury this season, he should eclipse 1,000 points and 700 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field for his career. No Boston College player has accomplished that since Corey Raji in 2011.
Popovic went from being a “nice” player in to a really good player in 2018-19, averaging career highs in points, rebounds, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage. He missed a few games battling groin and concussion issues, but managed to post averages of 14.5 points and 7.2 rebounds. He logged seven double doubles on the season.
That video is from his sophomore season not last year and I apologize, but it is also relevant. Look at the players he is going against in that clip. Ben Lammers, Eli Thomas, and Mamadi Diakite. Three guys known for their incredible defense and shot blocking ability. Nik will never wow you with his athleticism, and he will get into foul trouble now and then, but he is usually in the right spot and possesses good hands and touch around the hoop.
With the recent news of Wynston Tabbs being out for the season I, unfortunately, don’t expect much of anything from Boston College. Derryck Thornton is the most likely player to try and fill that void as he arrives in Chestnut Hill as a graduate transfer, but it will take time for Popovic to get acclimated to his style. It will be interesting to see how Nik progresses in his final season with the departure of his running make (and best friend) Ky Bowman as well.
You may see some regression here, but it will have little to do with the player that Popovic is, and more to do with the floor stretching ability of the pieces around him.