Young Women’s Player Of The Year
|Baric started playing basketball ten years ago and she was already a member of the Slovenia U16 team at 13|
What is it that set Nika Baric, the 2010 FIBA Europe Young Women's Player of the Year, apart from the competition?
Was it her penchant for making the perfect pass at the U18 European Championship in Slovakia, where she led Slovenia into the Semi-Finals and was voted tournament MVP?.
Might it have been her ability to dazzle onlookers with dribbling?
Or was it the fact that the ZKK Merkur Celje point guard scored almost at will?
She averaged more than 23 points per game.
The answer of course is all of the above.
The characteristic that truly gives Baric a chance to succeed in the sport, though, is her brain.
She likes to figure things out, she says, and not just on the basketball court.
"I like to play poker," she said to Basketball World News.
"I know how to win.
"It's the same with basketball, you have to be smart."
To be a candidate for the Player of the Year award was cause enough to be proud but to actually win by receiving most of the votes from the experts, and fans, is even sweeter.
"It proves that I'm on the right path, so I'm very excited," she said.
A Quick Study
|The Slovenian star has also the MVP award of the 2009 U18 European Championship Women Division B in her collection|
Baric began playing the sport 10 years ago.
She had friends who liked basketball and encouraged her to join them on the outdoor courts near her home.
Baric turned out to be a quick study because she put on the national team shirt for the first time at just 13 years of age, at the 2005 U16 European Championship.
She has big plans.
"I really want to play in the EuroLeague Women," she said.
"For me, this is first and then maybe after a few good seasons in EuroLeague Women, when I'm older, maybe I'd want to be the first woman from Slovenia to play in the WNBA."
If she continues to perform as she did last year at the U18 European Championship, the chances are good that she will realize her dreams.
She'll never forget her MVP-winning summer in Slovakia, that's for sure.
"This was a real highlight for me," she said.
"We played very well last summer. Every year we are better.
"I'm very happy because all the people of Slovenia are proud of us.
The award is further evidence that basketball is the national sport of Slovenia, the country that will host EuroBasket 2013.
"I think so," she says.
|The iconic shooting guards of US and European basketball, Michael Jordan and the late Drazen Petrovic, are Nika's role models|
"Like I said, every year the sport improves here. And I will certainly be supporting our boys to do well"
MJ & Drazen
Most players have role models in the game, or people they love to watch on television or in person.
There are two basketball icons that inspired Baric.
"My friends and coach have always been important to me, but I've always been inspired by Michael Jordan and Drazen Petrovic," she said.
"I love them.
"I remember him (Jordan) playing very athletic and attractive basketball.
"Drazen Petrovic was a big man because he was so smart. He had a big heart."
Baric believes an important part of her development has been competing with and against older players.
"I've always played with older players and older teams and I love this because I am getting better by doing this," she says.
"For this reason, I like it more than playing with young players."
Baric has a good head on her shoulders.
She understands this is only the beginning.
"I can say I'm a good player but I'm not satisfied with myself," she says.
"I need to do a lot of work on all the details if I'm going to become a really good player so my dreams will come true."