The Central Michigan men’s basketball team will be without a returning senior for next season.
Marko Spica has opted to return home to Serbia and will not return for his final year of eligibility, head coach Ernie Zeigler confirmed on Monday.
“Marko has gone back to Serbia and is looking to pursue some professional interests,” Zeigler said. “He’s graduating here this summer and is going to complete his degree. He’s been an invaluable part of our program and we wouldn’t be where we are right now without his contributions.”
Regarded as one of the top post players in Europe out of high school, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward was recruited by Zeigler while he was an assistant coach at UCLA in 2005. When Zeigler took the head coaching position at CMU in June 2006, Spica followed him.
Spica averaged 7.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during the 2006-07 season and was named to the Mid-American Conference All-Freshman team.
His production, however, fell the following year when he averaged 6.5 points and 2.8 rebounds. A pre-season injury sidelined him for the 2008-09 season.
Expected to have a major impact this past season, Spica proved to be inconsistent. He played in all but one game – starting in three – while averaging just 7.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
Zeigler has added a pair of walk-ons for the 2010-11 season, bringing the total number of new players committed to playing for the Chippewas to nine.
Brook Turson, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard from Plymouth, Ohio, committed to CMU after recently signing a National Letter of Intent to play at Robert Morris.
Austin Barnes, a 6-foot-7-inch small forward from Lansing Waverly High School, also signed to play for CMU last month.
“Austin’s a kid who is just starting to scratch the surface in terms of his potential,” Zeigler said. “We’re looking forward to him coming in and being (in) a developmental role as we look to improve his strengths and skills.”
CMU’s 2010 recruiting class is ranked first in the Mid-American Conference and was recently named second in espn.com’s “Best of the Rest” (non-power conference) category.
According to a post on the team’s Twitter account, CMU is scheduled to play its first exhibition game of the 2010-11 season on Nov. 4 against Cornerstone at Mount Pleasant High School.
Zeigler confirmed the announcement but said an opponent is still not confirmed.
“It’s somewhat out of necessity more so than anything,” Zeigler said. “We want the first game in the new Events Center to be a game of great magnitude, which we hope it will be with Temple on Dec. 1.”
Zeigler said there were options of trying to play the game at Finch Fieldhouse, but the cost of getting a new floor wasn’t feasible.
The game will serve as a homecoming of sorts for CMU’s biggest recruit, Trey Zeigler, who spent most of his prep career playing at MPHS.
“He’s going to have some fun with it,” Ernie Zeigler said. “For all players, you reminisce and you have those moments thinking ‘this is the last time I’m warming up, this is the last time I’m getting ready to play.’ Now he gets to play another game there.”