Penn has added to its recruiting class for the 2010-11 season in a big way.
Yesterday, 6-foot-6 wingman Marin Kukoc, the son of former Chicago Bulls’ standout Toni Kukoc, announced his commitment to Penn.
“I just like how Penn was campus-wise, and the school, and how the staff was behind the team,” Kukoc said. “I just felt comfortable.”
Kukoc, who plays high school ball for Highland Park (located 28 miles north of Chicago), has garnered notice for his versatility on the hardwood.
“He has a very high skill level so he can go under the post and score,” said Kukoc’s high school coach Paul Harris.
“He can handle the ball and score off the dribble and has worked hard to improve his three-point shooting as well,” he added.
The guard/forward was recruited by several Division I programs and Ivy League schools, including Cornell, Princeton, Yale, Northwestern and Stanford.
Kukoc confirmed multiple reports that he was being actively recruited by the Big Red and visited Cornell this school year.
Kukoc appeared to be a logical replacement for 6-7 senior Ryan Wittman, a two-time first-team All-Ivy selection known for his ability to drive to the basket and shoot the three. The Big Red roster also includes sophomore Chris Wroblewski, a former teammate of Kukoc at Highland Park.
“[Wroblewski] told me he had a bias, of course, to Cornell because he loved the school,” Kukoc said. “It would be cool to play with him, but I called him just for help [making a decision].”
While Kukoc initially started receiving looks from former head basketball coach Glen Miller the summer before his senior year, he was introduced to interim head coach Jerome Allen early in the recruiting process.
He indicated that his interaction with Allen was one of the factors that led him toward Penn.
“He played in Europe — that’s where my family, my dad and I played — so there was that connection,” Kukoc said.
“[Allen] seemed like a really good guy, and now that he’s head coach, it’s a change but I kind of like it,” he added. “I just felt good with him.”
Harris also expressed confidence that Allen would provide a sense of stability that would be benefit Kukoc.
“However the coaching thing plays out, it will be a good opportunity for Marin that, hopefully, during his four years, the same coach will be there. You can’t predict those things, but I think [Allen] starting out fresh is a great opportunity,” Harris said.
Kukoc will complement a recruiting class that already includes Steven Rennard, Casey James, Dau Jok, Miles Cartwright, Cameron Gunter and Fran Dougherty.
But Kukoc is hoping to stand out from the pack.
“It would be cool for my freshman year to be named Rookie of the Year,” he said.
And luckily for Penn, the wingman, who was a late bloomer in terms of physical growth, isn’t done growing yet.
“I’m still 17, one of the youngest players in my class,” Kukoc said. “So I’ll probably still grow another inch or two.”