Like most Frenchmen, Alex Gavrilovic came into our lives, made us fall in love with him and then skipped town never to be heard from again. His scent is still in our sheets, his aura permanent, nothing but memories remain.
Although it was no surprise that Gavrilovic left UD after his junior season, the circumstances behind his decision always remained a mystery. A career that started with such promise — AG averaged thirteen minutes per game as a freshman, scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds a contest — ended under a shroud of speculation and conjecture.
Having the opportunity to speak with Alex, we touched on the circumstances that brought him to Dayton, what ultimately led to his transfer out of the Gem City and what he is currently up to overseas.
I want to start a little bit before you got to Dayton — how does a French kid end up at IMG Academy?
[su_testimonial photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/gavrilovic-home-e1463274058724.jpg”]Prior to enrolling at the IMG Academy, I played in my hometown in Strasbourg. My dream was to play in the US and experience college basketball. I was an NBA and NCAA fan at that time, and all I had in mind was a chance to play in the US and experience American basketball.
I knew a Serbian basketball coach who sent a couple players down to IMG before me. In 2009, he asked me if I was interested in going there. That was my opportunity to make my dream come true. [/su_testimonial]
IMG ain’t cheap. Did you get a scholarship to attend or did you have to foot the bill? What was it like playing/living there?
[su_testimonial photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/gavrilovic-home-e1463274058724.jpg”]No it ain’t cheap!!! I received a scholarship to go there, otherwise I would have never been able to attend the school. IMG is an awesome place. It is the perfect atmosphere to train. The facilities are amazing and the coaches really helped me to get better. We had more than 60 games in a single season, which was great to get recruited by college teams.
As a player, I was really lucky to play there. Also, it is always enjoyable to live in Florida. The beach was 2 minutes away, the weather was perfect, and there were so much stuff to do there. The location was ideal. [/su_testimonial]
IMG has a reputation for being a “football/basketball” factory. Be honest, what were the classes like there?
Damn, that’s nice. So how did Dayton first get in the picture? What was their recruiting pitch to you?
[su_testimonial photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/gavrilovic-home-e1463274058724.jpg”]My college recruitment was a struggle. In 2010, I committed to Providence, but a couple weeks before the first summer session, I became ineligible due to academic reasons. For that reason, I went back to the IMG Academy a second year and reopened my recruitment.
I had a bunch of schools recruiting me again, including Dayton. After my official visit there, I knew that was the right place. [/su_testimonial]
What was it about UD that made it the right place for you?
[su_testimonial photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/gavrilovic-home-e1463274058724.jpg”]I actually tried to avoid going to Ohio and other states in that area. I wanted to stay on the coasts, especially after spending two years in Florida. When I decided to visit Dayton, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I definitely did not think I would end up there. But when the coaches picked me up at the airport, I felt comfortable right away.
I liked them as people but also their coaching philosophy. I also really liked the players. I felt like it was a big family, and that’s what I was looking for. Not to mention I fell in love with the Arena and the campus. Today, my regret is that I didn’t spend more years there!! [/su_testimonial]
So you enter your freshman year at UD. You’re a tall, devilishly handsome French dude. I assume girls were taking numbers outside your door?
So you had a very solid freshman season, averaging around twelve minutes per game. You were a fan favorite and a player that showed a lot of promise. However, your minutes dipped substantially as your career progressed at UD, why specifically did your playing time decrease at Dayton? Were there reasons given?
[su_testimonial photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/gavrilovic-home-e1463274058724.jpg”]I was very happy my freshman year. My relationship with Archie was great, and my summer going into my sophomore year was incredible. But then, during the preseason of my sophomore year, I had mononucleosis, which put me on the side for a couple months. I missed the entire pre-season and only came back for the first game of the regular season. I kinda lost my spot on the team and had to fight back. I guess the coach had a reason not to play me then.
However, I still don’t understand why I didn’t play my junior year. Going into my junior season, I felt like I earned my spot back and did everything the coaching staff expected from me. Not playing was entirely a coaching decision. It was very frustrating because there were no reasons to keep me on the bench the entire game. I gave my everything during each practice, always showed up and stayed positive.
I constantly asked the assistant coaches about why I wasn’t playing and what I needed to do more. Their answers were “keep doing what you do. I don’t know why you aren’t playing.” Still today, I don’t have a clear answer from Archie though…[/su_testimonial]
So after your junior season you decided to transfer out of UD — was playing time the overwhelming concern? Most UD fans feel like you were probably forced out by Archie, any truth to that?
[su_testimonial photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/gavrilovic-home-e1463274058724.jpg”]Archie never talked to me. I was very close with coach Kuwik, and he truly wanted to best for me. Him and I talked about it, and we decided it would be the best for me to transfer out of Dayton. Coach Ostrom and Coach Comar begged me to stay though. Maybe Archie wanted me out, but I’m not sure if they were expecting me to leave.
The reasons why I decided to transfer out of Dayton was because of my playing time and my relationship with Archie. I needed a coach who could trust me and I could trust in return. Staying on the bench was my worst nightmare, so I couldn’t stay another year. I loved UD and I was sad to leave. [/su_testimonial]
So what was Archie’s best quality as a coach, what was the worst?
[su_testimonial photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/gavrilovic-home-e1463274058724.jpg”]I think he is a tremendous coach. I truly respect him as a coach. I learned so much with him. Players fear him so we played hard during practices and games. He pushed us to get better and reach another level. He is the type of coach you want to have.
The negative thing about Archie is that he is not open to talk to players. It is difficult to talk to him. The worst part, is that he is verbally very aggressive. [/su_testimonial]
You spent a year at Towson. What was that experience like? How was it compared to Dayton?
[su_testimonial photo=”http://www.blackburnreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/gavrilovic-home-e1463274058724.jpg”]Towson was different. Nothing compared to Dayton. The basketball team wasn’t as good as the Dayton team, basketball wasn’t the main sport on campus, the overall mentality was different. UD was way better on most aspects. The only things I liked about Towson better than Dayton was the fact that the coach and I had a good relationship, my teammates were great, and the location was good too.
Today, I realize how exceptional it is to be a Flyer! We traveled with a private plane, stayed in the best hotels all over the US, had everything we needed/wanted on campus, winning was the only thing that mattered…none of that existed at Towson. I’m glad I experienced both sides. [/su_testimonial]
Now you’re playing overseas. How’s that going? (Alex just wrapped up his first season playing for Chorale in the French Pro B league)
Last question, what’s with the new ink on your left arm?
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.