The University of Maine men’s basketball program continued its trend toward recruiting foreign-born players Monday with commitments from two shooters.
Zarko Valjarevic, a sharpshooter from Serbia, has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Maine and Justin Edwards, a guard from Canada, has verbally committed to join UMaine next semester.
Valjarevic, a 6-foot-4 swingman who is attending Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., reportedly committed to the Black Bears on Sunday, according to the New England Recruiting Report website.
Edwards, a 6-2 shooting guard who starred at Anderson Collegiate Vocational Institute in Whitby, Ontario, committed Monday, according to several published reports.
UMaine head coach Ted Woodward could not be reached for comment on Valjarevic and is not allowed to comment on Edwards until UMaine has received his signed NLI.
Valjarevic becomes the third player from overseas to commit to UMaine during the 2010-11 recruiting cycle, joining Finnish forward Killian Cato and Israeli guard Noam Laish, who previously signed NLIs.
Edwards will join Mike Allison as the Bears’ Canadian representatives, while the squad also features Alasdair Fraser of Scotland and Svetoslav Chetinov of Bulgaria.
Edwards chose UMaine after making several NCAA official visits, including trips to Missouri, Fresno State and Rhode Island.
“I know at Maine I’ll have a good opportunity to go in and play right away,” Edwards told flagrantfouls.com. “They’ve been recruiting me since the beginning and it showed me how loyal they were towards me.”
Edwards is a high-jumping guard who appears to excel at driving to the basket. Judging from a highlight video on YouTube, he has a propensity for throwing down dunks.
“They expect me to come in and be a good scorer that can shoot the ball and attack the rim,” Edwards told flagrantfouls.com
Valjarevic also chose UMaine because of the perceived chance to contribute right away and the Bears’ steady recruiting interest.
“I’m very happy that Zarko has found a program where he’s expected to be a factor from day one,” Notre Dame Prep coach Ryan Hurd told NERR. “Coach Woodward told me in September how much he would love to have Zarko at Maine and I was glad to see it come to fruition.”
According to Hurd, Woodward and UMaine were among the first to begin recruiting Valjarevic upon his arrival in the fall.
“I think it’s a lot easier to sign a National Letter of Intent when you know the head coach was the guy who spearheaded your recruitment,” Hurd said.
Valjarevic was among eight Notre Dame Prep players from last winter’s team to sign NLIs to play at Division I programs.
The ESPN.com recruiting website describes Valjarevic as “a sharp-shooting swingman with good size and a crafty European feel for the game. He is a big time shot maker with deep range on his jumper. He shoots it equally well spotting up, off the dribble or coming off screens and is very adept at creating space with step-back dribbles in both directions.”
ESPN.com summed up Valjarevic’s abilities thusly.
“He is a high-level 3-point shooter and also a dangerous midrange scorer who will need to make significant improvements to his defensive game to see the floor at the next level.”
Both players’ participation at UMaine is contingent upon their acceptance into the school and compliance with NCAA initial eligibility guidelines.