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6-foot-3 Dragana Grbic has verball commited to Butler. She has averaged 10 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots through six games this season.

The fortunes of 6-foot-3 junior center Dragana Grbic might have been much different had parents Drago and Smilja not won a lottery to have an opportunity to leave the war-torn country of Serbia in 1997.

Grbic did not pick up a basketball much during the first few years in the United States, but began taking the sport more seriously in fourth grade. She played for former ISU player Howie Johnson on the Terre Haute Magic with several of her current South teammates.

On Nov. 17, Drago’s and Smilja’s only daughter made a verbal commitment to continue her basketball career at Butler.

Grbic ranks 23rd in her class academically — which puts her among the top 5 percent — and she plans to study pharmacy at the Indianapolis school. Pharmacy is a six-year program and Butler guaranteed a scholarship for five years, she said when reached on her cell phone Thursday.

Grbic had some interest from Purdue last season and Indiana State was among the many schools to offer her a scholarship, she said, while adding that Butler was always high on her list. Grbic averaged 15.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks as a sophomore.

“I feel like they have a good academic and athletic program. Seems like a good fit,” she said of Butler.

Butler plays Indiana State on Saturday in the State Farm Classic at Valparaiso.

Terre Haute South, ranked No. 7 in Class 4A by the Indiana Girls Coaches Association, plays its own rivalry game Saturday at home, facing off against Class 4A No. 4 Indianapolis North Central.

North Central’s 5-3 point guard Brianna Bass is a member of the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation at Tennessee. Bass signed Nov. 17 to play for Pat Summitt, and her teammate Kira Carter signed to play for Oakland (Mich.) University.

Terre Haute South likely has multiple Division I players as well, with juniors Krista Smith and Tessa Johnson drawing significant interest. Senior guard Megan Craft is also a potential collegiate player.

Smith scored 20 points in the Braves’ win at North Central last season and has been offered a scholarship to play at Indiana State, South coach Alan Maroska said.

Grbic said she and her teammates are focused on playing one game at a time.

“The state championship is ultimate goal, but right now just trying to work through each game and trying to improve as a team,” Grbic said.

Grbic will be important for Saturday’s game, and she’ll be part of a team effort trying to stop Bass.

“Just quick, so quick,” Maroska said of Bass. “Quick release on her shot, she’ll penetrate and dish or penetrate and get to the line.”

Maroska recently watched North Central defeat Perry Meridian and the Panthers’ stifling defense stood out more than anything.

“They held them scoreless during one stretch for more than 10 minutes,” Maroska said.

Maroska hopes Grbic’s commitment is one of several to come. He’s proud of how much the center has grown as a player the last three years.

“She’s come a long way. It takes big kids longer to mature and she’s made a lot of progress,” Maroska said. “She’s got a lot of upside left in her basketball, depending on how much she improves in college, whether there’s a future beyond college. Butler’s a great institutional education. They’re on the upswing, a really good coaching staff.”

South’s game Saturday is scheduled to tip off at approximately 1:30 p.m.



n North also in MIC action — Terre Haute North coach Mike Allen’s team plays a Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference game tonight at Center Grove.

The Patriots (2-4) have suffered three losses to top-10 teams, losing to Terre Haute South, No. 5 Bloomington South and No. 10 Bloomington North.

The fourth loss was to a strong Mooresville squad. The Patriots also play Sullivan on Monday.

n Thompson working with players — Krista Smith began training with former Vigo County football standout Ernie Thompson prior to last season.

Thompson, who has worked with Indiana State players such as Melanie Boeglin in the past, began helping some of the other South players during preparations for this year’s season.

“He’s really helped us out a lot strength wise and agility,” Grbic said.

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