Vittum Park's Rakocevic leads USC to NCAA comeback win
The University of Southern California's (USC) overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half on Wednesday to beat Providence 75-71 in the NCAA tournament after freshman center from Vittum Park Nick Rakocevic sparked an 11-2 run.
“Everybody just had a new energy in the second half," Rakocevic said after Wednesday's game. "I love it when it gets like that, because I like being the little energizer bunny.”
Much hoopla filled the internet and the arena after the win, with USC fans taking to Twitter to proclaim Rakocevic the game's MVP.
“Rakocevic for MVP! What a comeback!!!,” Bill Gegenheimer, a USC fan, said on Twitter.
“Player of the Game? Nick Rakocevic, whose second half contributions turned things around for #USC. Raise your hand if you called that,” Reign of Troy, a USC fan website, said on Twitter.
Rakocevic hails from Vittum Park in southwest Chicago. He led St. Joseph High School to a 3A state title as a junior. One of his more memorable performances came the following year in an upset of highly ranked Fenwick High School of Oak Park in the sectional finals.
While in high school, Rakocevic received offers from UNLV, Arizona State, Florida and USC, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“My senior year (at St. Joseph) went by with a blink of an eye,” Rakocevic told the Chicago Tribune. “… I knew I had to get ready … there really wasn’t much to talk about after the official [USC] visit. It was a perfect fit for me.”
The Tribune has kept its eye on the 6’11” center during his high school years, calling him a talented player who demonstrated increasing maturity and leadership skills on the court.
“There's no other place I'd rather be than USC," Rakocevic told the Chicago Tribune.