Meet SUU Men’s Basketball International Student-Athletes

Posted: December 17, 2019 | Author: Connor Aste | Read Time: 4 minutes

SUU Men's 2019-2020 Basketball teamThe Southern Utah University Men’s Basketball team has long had its reach across the globe, but for the 2019-2020 season, three players will represent their home countries on the court. David N’Diaye, Jarryd Hoppo, and Ivan Madunic grew up worlds apart on three different continents and basketball has brought them together in Cedar City. 

“It is a difficult adjustment for all student-athletes to move to college, let alone when you come from halfway across the world,” said Head Coach Todd Simon. “Ivan and David are both seniors who have been through that process and they are helping Jarryd who still in his first year to continue to adjust to basketball and life here in the states.” 

Ivan Madunic is an SUU basketball veteran. Leading the team in blocks as a freshman and sophomore, Ivan contributed to the SUU basketball team as soon as he stepped foot on the court. Over the past three years, development for Ivan has come not only in the form of a strong offensive skill set but also who he has become individually. 

“I came to Cedar City as a kid and have grown so much as a person,” said Ivan. “Coach Simon has been very influential for me and has helped to shape my life.”

The senior graduate student from Split, Croatia is currently working on his MBA after earning his bachelor’s degree in finance in only three years. His ability to succeed in the classroom granted him the opportunity to move from Croatia to Florida in 2015 and enroll in prep school. Ivan was only 17 when he moved alone to the United States for his senior year of high school.

Ivan is accompanied on the court by transfer Daouda “David” N’Diaye. The 7-foot center is a formidable shot-blocker from Dakar, Senegal. Shortly after being born, David’s family moved from Africa to Paris, France, where he fell in love with basketball. 

With his height and skill at basketball, it became apparent to his family that he had the potential to play collegiately. At the age of 15, David took a risk and moved to Florida to attend the Montverde Academy boarding school as a freshman. 

Starring at Montverde, David was offered a scholarship to Illinois State University where he was a force in the paint, specializing in protecting the rim. Plagued by stress fractures in his third year as a Redbird, David was unable to consistently stay healthy and saw his role on the court diminish. He entered the transfer portal and was quickly approached by Coach Simon. David chose to transfer to SUU but had to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules. 

The youngest of the international players is Jarryd Hoppo, the 6-foot-9-inch freshman born and raised in South Adelaide, Australia. Having graduated from high school in December of 2018, Jarryd has been with the team for less than a year. He credits his teammates and coaches for creating a family-oriented atmosphere that has made his transition to America a smooth one.

“There is a culture here that just helps you feel like you belong,” said Jarryd. “Ivan has been especially great about being a mentor for me. We relate to each other really well and he helps me with adjusting to basketball and life.”

Still being new to the United States, basketball is one of the few familiar things for Jarryd. In Australia, he was a standout player that earned himself an invitation to play in a national tournament featuring the top 50 prep players in the country. Coach Simon was on an international recruiting trip and offered Jarryd a scholarship shortly after watching him play that day.

“International athletes are critical to what we do,” said Coach Simon. “They bring unique types of skill sets and styles of play that create different looks in terms of versatility for our opponents.” 

Ironically, one of the key challenges that all of SUU’s international players face is the same thing that gives them an advantage over opponents: the style of play in America is different than what they grew up playing. 

“In Europe, the style of play is much different,” said Ivan. “Basketball here is played with more isolation and individual talent, whereas back home we have to move the ball around more to get open shots.”

“One of the biggest adjustments for me has been the pace of play,” added Jarryd. “Australian players aren’t as big or fast as they are here.”

David, Ivan, and Jarryd are excellent students who all hope to be business owners once their playing days are over. All three have their sights set on the future but also want to leave the door open to playing professionally in their home countries. 

For now, their sole focus is to build off the success of last season. The 2018-19 season was the team’s best finish in twelve years and ended in the team’s second postseason appearance in a Division 1 tournament in school history. 

“We play some great teams to start our season, but we think that will only help us toward our goal of winning the Big Sky Conference for the first time ever,” said Ivan. 

Follow the SUU men’s basketball team and get to know the players by visiting the team’s homepage.

This article was published more than 3 years ago and might contain outdated information or broken links. As a result, its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

Tags: Athletics International Affairs

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