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Sasha Stefanovic will do something in the coming days that he’s wanted to do his entire life.

The 2017 Crown Point graduate will play for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Summer League, which starts in Las Vegas on Thursday.

“It’s been my dream since I was little to put on an NBA uniform,” he said. “Even though it’s the summer league, it’s still a tremendous honor and something I’ve really been working toward.

His deal with the Spurs was announced after he went undrafted on June 23. But Stefanovic, who wrapped up his college career at Purdue earlier this year, was aware of both circumstances earlier in the day.

“That afternoon, my agents told me about some options, and we committed to a spot before the draft happened,” he said. “I’d assumed I was going to be an undrafted guy, so I figured it was better to have something in place before all of the craziness of people trying to get spots.”

Stefanovic was training in Miami but arrived in San Antonio on June 26 for the start of a brief training camp before the Spurs’ summer league team departs for Las Vegas. Among the people Stefanovic has met since heading to Texas is Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who was born in East Chicago and graduated from Merrillville in 1966.

Stefanovic said those shared Northwest Indiana roots came up during their brief conversation.

“I introduced myself, and then I mentioned we were kind of a town away from each other,” Stefanovic said. “It was really cool to meet him. He was very kind and welcoming.”

Stefanovic said he hopes to find a professional league for next season, regardless of where it is.

“I’ve been working on different parts of my game, trying to broaden it from not being just a standstill shooter,” he said. “I’m always working on my shot, whether that’s coming off screens or whatever it may be — the different types of action I’ll see at the professional level. I’m just trying to be better across the board.”

Stefanovic has been down a similar road before. He started off as a redshirt freshman at Purdue before working his way up the depth chart to start all 37 games in his senior season.

“Whatever team I eventually play for, I’ll be at the bottom of the totem pole,” he said. “So I’m working on the things that’ll get me more playing time.”

When Stefanovic plays in those summer league games in Las Vegas, he’ll have at least one familiar face in the crowd: Crown Point coach Clint Swan. Calling it “pure dumb luck,” Swan said he and his wife, Kim, planned a trip to Las Vegas that overlaps with the summer league schedule.

The same thing happened seven years ago, when the Swans planned a trip there while Stefanovic and Grant Gelon — a 2016 Crown Point graduate who played for Indiana and Bethel in his college career — were playing in an AAU tournament.

“I promise I’m not the one who scheduled the trips,” Swan said with a laugh. “But we’re excited to be out there and see him play.”

When Swan attends those games, he knows he’ll see a much different player than the one who graduated from Crown Point five years ago.

“I didn’t think he could get his shot off much quicker than he did in high school,” Swan said. “But he does it even quicker now. There’s more polish to his game.”

After the summer league concludes, Stefanovic’s road is still to be determined. The only specific thing on his schedule is a return to Crown Point to host the Sasha Stefanovic Shooting School on July 27 and 28.

There are multiple leagues in the U.S. where Stefanovic could play, or he could follow in the footsteps of his father, Lou, who was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1985 and played professionally in Europe.

Stefanovic said he has signed with agencies in the U.S. and Europe to keep every possible option available. Through his family ties, Stefanovic also could represent Serbia in international competition.

“I’m closing no doors to opportunities,” he said. “Just seeing what happens and moving forward from there.”

Dave Melton is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.


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Xavi ‘asks for Barcelona to re-sign Messi in shock transfer return from PSG’ after struggles against Rayo Vallecano

BARCELONA boss Xavi has asked the club to re-sign Lionel Messi from Paris Saint-Germain, according to reports.

Messi, 35, joined PSG in a free transfer from Barcelona last summer, but he failed to reach the same heights that he did while in Spain.

1Xavi wants Messi to return to BarcelonaCredit: Getty

In 37 appearances for The Parisians he's scored 14 goals and assisted 16, but many fans have been unimpressed with his performances.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner was BOOED off the pitch following PSG's 3-0 win against Bordeaux earlier this year.

And some fans even urged him to quit the club in a graffiti message plastered across the Camp des Loges training ground.

Meanwhile, Barcelona are pushing to climb back to the top of La Liga after finishing 13 points behind league champions Real Madrid last season.

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Despite already spending big this summer, the Catalan giants only managed to claim a point from their opening league game of the 2022-23 campaign.

They were held to a 0-0 draw by Rayo Vallecano on Saturday with new forwards Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha both failing to get on the scoresheet.

As a result, Xavi is now eager to bring in at least two more attacking players.

And according to Spanish football reporter Guillem Balague, he wants Messi to return to the Nou Camp.

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Xavi is already known to be interested in signing Manchester City's Bernardo Silva, who has not denied rumours of a proposed £80million move to Spain, but now Messi has emerged as a top target.

Balague tweeted: "Clearly the midfield of Barcelona, with the exception of Pedri, has not got the subtle touch/thinking necessary to play as Xavi wants, to find the right tempo, to feed forwards (and Busquets has played his best football).

"Hence Xavi wanting Bernardo Silva (and asking for Messi)."

The Argentina legend's father and agent Jorge Messi was claimed to be on the phone to Barca chiefs repeatedly at the start of the year in a bid to negotiate a return for his son.

Messi's PSG contract expires next summer, so it will likely cost his former club to bring him back.

But, Barcelona are currently in a financial crisis so some current players will have to be offloaded before another deal can be pushed through.

Officials are currently attempting to force Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay out of the club in a bid to free up space on the wage bill.

And Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could also depart just eight months after signing - he is being targeted by Chelsea.

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