Maryland women’s basketball made a late addition to its roster Tuesday night, adding junior college guard Sara Vujacic.
At this point in the college basketball cycle, most teams have had their recruiting classes set for months, so they have to dip into the transfer market to add players for next season. Unless they are a graduate transfer, they usually have to sit out a year, but Vujacic is an exception. As a junior college player, she will be able to play immediately, and she has two seasons of eligibility for the Terps.
Vujacic is a 5’11 guard from Slovenia, a central European country bordered by Austria in the north, Hungary in the east, Croatia in the south and Italy to the west. Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic is the only Slovenian native currently in the NBA, although phenom Luka Doncic will join him next year. Vujacic’s brother, Sasha, played in the NBA for 10 seasons and won two championships with the Lakers. He was also engaged to Maria Sharapova at one point, which would have been the rare case where a pro athlete would not have been the best athlete in the family.
But enough about really good female tennis players. Sara is a pretty good player herself, and was a JuCo First Team All-American at Walter State in Tennessee. She averaged 16.7 points and shot 45.8 percent on three-pointers and 80 percent from the foul line. It appears Maryland is getting a player that can score at multiple levels and create her own shot as well.
In College Park, Vujacic won’t be asked to do as much. Kaila Charles will be the go-to scorer again, so Vujacic will have less pressure on her while also playing with more talented players. That should make it easier to adjust to playing at a much higher level.
Right now, Vujacic has the skills to slide into Maryland’s rotation as a needed perimeter threat. If Blair Watson misses the early part of the season while recovering from an ACL injury, the Terps will need someone else besides Taylor Mikesell to help spread out the defense and make it easier for the post players to go to work inside (Note: This doesn’t take into account that any or all of Charles, Channise Lewis and Eleanna Christinaki could become better shooters from deep, which is definitely a possibility).
Maryland did not play inside-out a lot last season, but that should change next year with more post players and backcourt depth. Both should work to benefit the other, as having more threats to drive and score in the post will open up more opportunities for shooters. That was missing from Maryland’s offense, as Kaila Charles operated from the foul line and Stephanie Jones and Brianna Fraser weren’t consistent enough threats to collapse the defense.
The Terps got three-point shots by making the extra pass or ball ball reversals, but lacking a second perimeter threat eliminated the pick your poison game created by Watson and Kristen Confroy. With Vujacic, Maryland could have that versatility on offense once again.