A Silent Giant Awakens

LOS ANGELES - Dan Gadzuric is a mysterious person. On-court, he is a massive center who goes out game after game and bangs around with the nation's best centers. He plays aggressively and throws down monster dunks.

Off the court, his persona is quite different. He is just another member of the UCLA community, trying to blend in with a diverse student body. If he wasn't wearing athletic apparel, he might be mistaken for just a tall student with a book bag.

One word that dominates all of Dan Gadzuric's thoughts about basketball is "physical." During an interview, many his answers involved something about the physical nature of basketball. Whether talking about his game or opponents, being physical is an important part of playing his position. He lists Jerome Moiso as one of his favorite opponents because he goes up against him every day in practice and it helps him to improve his game. Another favorite opponent is Stanford's Mark Madsen, who brings a tremendous degree of aggressiveness to each contest.

Gadzuric's affection for basketball's physicality is accompanied by a quiet "go about your business" attitude. When asked which cartoon character he would compare himself to, he chose the Tasmanian Devil "because he is physical. You can't joke around with him."

Indeed, joking around is something that is not associated with Gadzuric's college basketball career. As one of the nation's top high school prospects, he was in the process of exceeding all expectations as a college freshman. He led the Bruins in field goal shooting (54.0) and blocked shots (1.3/game). He was the fifth leading scorer (8.6 ppg) and third leading rebounder (5.7 rpg). Twenty-six games into his freshman year, his season was cut short by a knee injury. He turned to his teammates for motivation following his setback.

"I tried to support my teammates, even though I wasn't playing, and their feedback really helped me," he said.

Since last year, Gadzuric has been making the long recovery journey. And, after a stellar 18 points, 11 rebounds performance against Syracuse, he is well on his way. A true sign of an outstanding athlete is the ability to acknowledge weaknesses and to work to correct any problems. Gadzuric is aware of the weaknesses in his game, primarily his free throw shooting and footwork.

"Before each game, I shoot a lot of free throws because my free throws are suffering right now," he explained. "I also practice my post moves in order to prepare before the game." In addition, he admits that his "mental approach needs improvement."

Reserved off-court, this silent giant prefers to maintain his privacy, yet he did provide a glimpse into his personal side. The following are a few answers that not only distinguish him from his teammates, but help to learn more about him.

At what age did you start playing basketball?
I started playing basketball around the age of 14 or 15.

Why did you choose to attend UCLA?
It is a great environment and it is very diverse. I feel very comfortable here and that is important to me.

If you could travel back in time, which of Coach Wooden's teams would you want to be a member of?
I would want to be a member of one of the teams with either Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton.

What's your favorite class at UCLA?
I have really enjoyed the math classes that I have taken.

Who do you go to for advice?
I get advice from a lot different people. I don't go to a specific person because I like to have a broad perspective.

If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
I wouldn't trade places with anybody. I'm happy with myself!

What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is meat. I eat a lot of meat, like New York steak.

What are your hobbies and interests?
My hobbies include reading, going out and socializing. Actually, I don't go out that often. Basketball takes up a lot of my time, so I try to make the most of my "off time."

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself in a positive place, whatever or wherever that may be.

By Marisa N. Schwertfeger
UCLA Media Relations Assistant

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