Dejan Vasiljevic “DJ” has Serbian blood, was born in Canada and grew up in Melbourne. His passport is as diverse as his scoring skillset.
The Bryden Sydney Kings guard was a rookie last season and quickly became one of the best all-round scorers in the NBL21 season: shooting, floaters, finishing at the ring, you name it.
He will be one of many Kings players who will be assisting the Hoops Capital Academy to hone the skills of the next generation of basketball players in NSW. Read more about the Academy here.
DJ averaged 15.4 points per game on a contending team before his season-ending achilles injury.
Before the injury Vasiljevic had already represented Australia in several international tournaments, played all four years of college and was on pace to win the NBL’s Rookie of the Year award — but he didn’t even start shooting a basketball until age 11.
Vasiljevic started late with basketball, with his family introducing him to many different sports as a child. He only started playing organised basketball when he was 13. His father, Todor, showed black and white footage of the late, great Dražen Petrović. He encouraged DJ to play like one of the greatest European basketball players ever.
After a few seasons of playing domestically, Vasiljevic tried out for the Werribee Devils ‘Friday nights’ squad. DJ wasn’t selected for any team with the Devils but remained hungry to play at a high level. He eventually tried out for the Melbourne Tigers squads, where he was selected for the bottom-age 14’s team.
“That was where it pretty much all started,” Vasiljevic told Kings media.
“The next thing you know, I was making every state team from top-age 16’s to top-age 20’s and made a couple of Australian squads along the way.”
That led to Vasiljevic enrolling into the Australian Institute of Sport and representing Australia multiple times before starting his collegiate career.
Vasiljevic won silver in the 2013 FIBA Oceania U16’s, he was selected for an All-Tournament team in the 2014 FIBA Under-17 World Championship and played in the 2015 FIBA Under-19’s World Championship.
His success gave him a variety of options. Five different colleges offered him a scholarship and was even a development player with the Perth Wildcats before choosing the University of Miami’s Hurricanes basketball program.
Vasiljevic completed all four years of college and helped the Hurricanes make the finals in two of his four seasons. In his senior year, he averaged 13.2 points per game and 4.2 rebounds while finishing 17th in ACC history and 2nd among Hurricanes in career made 3-pointers.
That resulted in DJ signing a three-year contract with the Sydney Kings, the 23-year-old was highly sought after by NBL clubs but landed with the Kings after being promised NBA development opportunities.
“Will [Weaver] just wants me to come in and develop my game to the highest level so I can make that jump to the NBA in the coming years,” Vasiljevic said.
Vasiljevic suffered the season-ending achilles rupture in April and towards the end of last season, stunting the momentum of both the Kings and DJ. Rehabbing through lockdown, DJ made his return in Round 3 of the NBL season against Melbourne United.
DJ says that the Hoops Capital is ready to burst this season “I think it’s the culture we are building,” Vasiljevic said.
“I’m pushing towards Sydney becoming the Hoops Capital. We have one of the best arenas in the world, we have an unbelievable owner, an unbelievable CEO who is very experienced and come from the NBA.”
The team is currently loaded with NBA talent, Jarell Martin, Ian Clark and Jaylen Adans have all played in the NBA and DJ plans to be the next.
“We are an NBL team with an NBA platform,” Vasiljevic said.
“Chris Pongrass has recruited from the NBA, getting those NBA type guys like Didi Louzada, Jaylen Adams, RJ Hunter, Ian Clark, coach [Chase] Burford, Jarell Martin and Will Weaver.”
This season DJ has looked like himself, he’s averaging 10 points per game and has been the x-factor in many of the Kings’ games. Especially against the New Zeeland Breakers where he scored 23 points in the win.
Dejan Vasiljevic is one of many Kings players and coaches who are involved in the Hoops Capital Academy. The players often appear in training sessions passing on their wisdom and running clinics. To learn more about the Academy click here or go to the home page of the website.