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Asked what first went through his mind after stepping off the airplane at the Dothan Regional Airport last summer, Srdjan Petrovic gave a simple, yet meaningful answer.

“I said to myself, ‘This dream is true now,’’’ Petrovic recalls. ‘Now you’re here, and no one can stop me.”’

Petrovic is a 16-year-old sophomore who attends Houston Academy by way of a student visa. The native of Novi Sad, Serbia, takes academics and the game of basketball seriously.

“Everything started as my dream when I was in fourth grade,” he said. “I saw some movie about America – I think it was a sports movie. Afterwards, I was like, ‘I want to go there. I want to play basketball there.’’’

His first experience of high school basketball in the Wiregrass got off to a somewhat awkward start.

“He got a technical foul before the first game when we were at Samson,” Houston Academy coach Ron Watson said. “They rang the horn and everybody was coming over to the bench and he just jumped up there and grabbed the rim.

“He didn’t know there was any problem with it. So they started off shooting a two-shot technical.”

Petrovic laughs when recalling the incident. He also swells with pride when talking about taking the court for the first time for Houston Academy.

“My heart was really big because finally I can play basketball and to play here where I wanted all my life to play,” Petrovic said. “My teammates have helped me a lot to be ready and know what to expect.”

As a 6-foot-2, 165-pound guard, Petrovic is fluid distributing the ball from the point or spotting up and swishing it through from the wing. He averages a team-high 18.7 points per game for the Raiders and had a season-high of 39 points in a game against G.W. Long.

“One of the things he is really good at is running the break,” Watson said. “He’s confident. In Serbia that would be a good thing. Over here, somebody would think, ‘Oh he’s cocky. He just thinks he’s good.’

“He’s just confident in what he does, and the reason he’s confident is that he works hard at it and he knows what he’s trying to do. He’s up early in the morning lifting weights, he comes up here on the weekends all the time working. He eats right – he’s all into doing all the things to make himself better.”

Read the rest of the article here. Photo: Dothan Eagle