HAMMOND | When you're a 6-foot-8 sophomore center in high school, most people expect that you would be thick in the middle of the action in a big game.
Especially when you've already received Division I offers from Northwestern and Fordham.
But last Saturday at the Class 2A Huntington North Semistate, Bishop Noll's Milos Kostic was nowhere near the floor. He spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench in the Warrior's 53-50 win over Tipton.
Kostic hopes to be on the floor for most of Saturday's state championship game against Park Tudor at Conseco Fieldhouse.
"I was upset, we were losing," Kostic said of coach Drew Trost's move to put Larry Crisler in the post to amp up his team's defense as the Warriors clawed back into the game.
"But we have a lot of weapons on the team," Kostic continued. "Larry came in and did a great job. If I'm not playing good someone else has to."
Kostic is averaging 7.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game.
He plays like the European stereotype at times, very fluid with the ball in his hands. He has a good mid-range shot and can pass like Larry Bird.
But he passes like World B. Free sometimes, too.
"We need Milos to make the good pass, not the unbelievable pass," Trost said. "We need him to just play within himself. We don't need him to do something incredible all of the time."
Foot speed and lateral quickness and perhaps a softer, more international approach to the game put Kostic on the bench against Westview and Tipton because the smaller guards blew right by him on the defensive end of the floor.
"When we play teams with small, quick guards and we get behind it's tough on him," Trost said. "When he plays against a true center he plays great."
Park Tudor freshman Trevon Bluiett is 6-foot-5 and he plays around the basket. But calling the ninth grader a true center would not be accurate.
Still, Panthers' coach Ed Schilling spoke about Kostic at Monday's IHSAA state finals news conference.
"They've got a big man in the middle who is very good," Schilling said. "We're going to have to find a way to slow him down."
After Kostic arrived in America from his home in Serbia, he went with some friends to Indianapolis. They went to the Pacers home and looked around.
Noll practiced there on Tuesday. It was a thrill to say the least.
"First time I see Conseco house I told my friends I'm going to play here one day," Kostic said. "And now we are."
His mother arrived from Serbia the week of regionals and has stayed here since. She will be in Indy on Saturday for the biggest game in her big son's life.
"It nice to have someone from (my) family there," Kostic said. "She loves to watch basketball.
"We've got to play good team defense. We have to play best game of season."