ALTHOUGH it feels as though he just made his United States college debut, Sanctuary Point basketball product Kyle Zunic has already completed his freshman season with the Winthrop Eagles.
While the season didn’t go according to plan for the 19-year-old’s team, being eliminated before the prestigious NCAA tournament, Zunic still enjoyed his time on the hardwood.
“Overall I think I had a pretty solid year – it wasn’t all great but it never can be,” Zunic said.
“I knew it was going to be tough being in another country and being a freshman, but I feel like I held my own and gave it all I had so I’m happy with that.”
Probably the biggest aspect that the guard struggled with in his first year in the US was injuries.
“My expectations weren’t very high but I did expect to be a little bit better than what I was,” Zunic said.
“Unfortunately in sport, injuries happen and that’s what happened to me.
“I had those injuries during the year, with my ankles and my appendix but I think it has made me stronger for the years to come.
“The whole season is so taxing on your body and you really have to keep looking after your body.
“I had a few unfortunate things happen but they definitely made me better now and made me more hungry to just be on the court playing this amazing game.
“It puts things in perspective and allows you to just be grateful to be on the court when you are.”
Despite this, the former Australian under 19s star played strongly when on the court – shown by him collecting the Big South Conference freshman of week award during the season.
“Overall, I think I played pretty well – I did everything I could for the team and gave it all I have so I feel like that’s all you can do,” he said.
“Give your 100 per cent effort and see where it takes you.
“It was great to have that recognition for the week, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot – I would have loved to have won that Big South title with the guys instead but it didn’t happen.
“It’s still an award I was very happy to win though.”
Zunic’s Eagles finished the regular season with a 18-11 record, before playing in the Big South tournament.
In their quarter-final match-up, they defeated Gardner-Webb University 72-68 but that would be their last victory of the season, being eliminated in the semi-finals by Radford 61-52.
“Playing in the Big South tournament was an amazing experience,” Zunic said.
“Obviously the end wasn’t amazing but being apart of that was really cool and I can’t wait to have another shot at it next year.”
Zunic will now complete his first year studies before returning to Australia briefly in May.
He will then return to the US to start preparing for his Sophomore season with the Eagles.
“The coaches and I haven’t spoken about next season yet – we are just getting some time to ourselves to recharge and then we’ll start to train a little bit to start the off-season,” he said.
“But heading into next season, the goal is to win the Big South tournament and go to the NCAA tournament – that’s the big goal.”