A familiar face has been seen in Allen Arena for much of the summer.
Adnan Hodzic, who won numerous awards for his play with the Lipscomb men’s basketball team, including Atlantic Sun Player of the Year for 2009-2010, has been working out and playing in late afternoon scrimmage games in preparation to his return to Europe.
Actually, he might not be all that familiar to Lipscomb basketball fans. He has lost almost 20 pounds, sports a full beard and has changed his playing style.
After being a dominating player in the A-Sun Hodzic had to learn how to do deal with the many different aspects of the way the game of basketball is played in Europe.
“My life has changed in every way,” Hodzic said. “Athletically, it has changed. I play basketball as a job. I have had to learn new things and not necessarily the easiest way. I went through some tough times, but I prevailed over them.”
At Lipscomb, where he was a three-time All-Atlantic Sun First-Team selection, an Associated Press All-American and the leading scorer in the NCAA era, he only had to turn and shoot from the post position and be in place for rebounds.
“Over there you have to learn how to play the pick and roll,” Hodzic said. “Big men are looked at like point guards. You have to learn the pick-and-roll because that is 90 percent of the offense. The big men are play makers.
“You have to learn how to dissect defenses. Your I.Q. has to be really high to play over there. It is a very slow game. They are very fundamentally sound and very tactical.”
Hodzic needed the first half of the season to fully adjust to the league. He has always been known for his work ethic, but he admits he needed assistance from a higher power as well.
“My faith in the Lord skyrocketed,” Hodzic said. “I have really learned to lean on him. Just like he promises, he didn’t let me down. He lifted me up and I finished strong. The Lord has changed me more than anything.”
The transition to European basketball was similar to what Hodzic experienced when he stepped up from high school to college basketball. He finished the 35-game season averaging approximately 10 points and five rebounds per game.
“I am very happy with the year I had,” Hodzic said. “Over there you don’t find anybody averaging 20 points a game. The leading scorers on our team averaged 12 points a game. During the second half of the season I put up good numbers.
“When I got comfortable I was able to be dominant on the blocks. They were bigger and slower than me on the blocks. I was more athletic. My strength and endurance are high. I give God all the glory for that.”
Hodzic played last season for the Walter Tigers, based in Tubingen, Germany. He has not signed a contract with a team for the 2012-2013 German BBL League. Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson thinks it would be an advantage for Hodzic if he can return to his old team.
“Like a lot of guys Adnan has to be comfortable in his environment before he can maximize his ability,” Sanderson said. “When he first went over there he struggled early on as he was learning how to play that system. He is familiar with that coach and the system. I don’t know that playing for another team and having to learn something completely different would be the most beneficial thing for him.”
Having coached Hodzic all four years at Lipscomb, Sanderson has not been surprised to see Hodzic in the arena working out both mornings and afternoons.
“He is always trying to learn,” Sanderson said. “There is more than one way to play basketball. He is playing more on the perimeter in Europe. He has played on different spots on the floor.”
When Hodzic was recruited to play at Lipscomb the spiritual aspects of the campus were not an attraction for him. He admits he was somewhat cynical about those who were talking to him about the Bible and the need to turn his life over to God.
“I had not been around that in my life,” Hodzic said. “When I came to Lipscomb I was with people who genuinely cared about me and loved me. It wasn’t fake. It was real. It made me think.
“It was no coincidence that I came to Lipscomb. The Lord knows what he is doing. He plans everything out.”
In May Hodzic’s life changed again when he married the former Courtney Williams, a former Lipscomb soccer player, in a ceremony in Terre Haute, Ind. They had attended the same high school, North Central, in Indianapolis, but really didn’t get to know each other until they both started attending Lipscomb.
“Our high school was so big,” Hodzic said. “We knew of each other, but didn’t know each other personally. We started hanging out here and became friends.”
Europe is the next stop, but don’t be surprised if Hodzic finds a way to return to Nashville on a more permanent basis.
“I would maybe like to play another 10 years,” Hodzic said. “Our fans were great.
“I would like for us to move to Nashville someday. We love a lot of people here. I love this environment. I love this school. I love this city.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.