Basketball

RECRUITING: Iowa State lands four-star forward Milan Momcilovic

Pewaukee forward Milan Momcilovic puts up a hook shot over the defense of Wisconsin Lutheran’s Kon Knueppel during a WIAA Division 2 sectional final on March 12, 2022. Syndication: Journal Sentinel

Iowa State has landed another of its priority targets in the 2023 recruiting cycle.

Pewaukee, Wis. forward Milan Momcilovic has committed to T.J. Otzelberger’s program. The 6-foot-8, 205-pound four-star forward chose Iowa State over other finalists Minnesota, UCLA, Michigan State, Virginia and Louisville.

He is the second recruit in Iowa State’s 2023 class, joining four-star Georgia guard Jelani Hamilton.

“First thing is my relationship with the coaching staff,” Momcilovic told Cyclone Fanatic on Saturday. “TJ (Otzelberger), JR (Blount), the strength coach, and the rest of the people. I just think the relationship there was one of the biggest factors for me. They came to see me five or six times at Pewaukee, or even my house. That just kind of showed how much they were invested in and how much they wanted me. So, that was probably one of the biggest things.”

“Number two was probably opportunity and fit. The opportunity will be there if you look at the roster makeup. I’m gonna come in and hopefully have a big impact right away. Obviously, I need to earn it, work hard and be humble, but the opportunity is there to play right away.”

The commitment is the culmination of nearly a year-long recruitment led by Otzelberger and assistant coach JR Blount. Their significant ties in the state of Wisconsin helped seal the deal with the best player in the state this cycle.

Iowa State first offered Momcilovic on Sept. 21, 2021. He then visited Ames in October and December of last year before visiting again last month.

Momcilovic has been one of the Cyclones’ top targets in this class throughout the process. Otzelberger kept a close eye on the forward, including watching his high school team play for the state title on TV from his hotel room on the off-day of the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend in Milwaukee and sitting courtside multiple times during the recruiting evaluation period this summer.

Rated as the No. 34 player in the class by the 247Composite, Momcilovic is the second-highest-rated recruit to commit to Iowa State in the 247 era. He’s the first 247Composite four-star power forward to commit to Iowa State since Georges Niang in the 2012 recruiting class.

That tie to Niang is fitting for Momcilovic, whose offensive game and ability to score at all three levels have invoked comparisons to the second-leading scorer in Cyclone history.

Obviously, any comparison like that is high praise, but Momcilovic’s offensive tools, especially in the post and in catch-and-shoot situations, are elite for the high school level and have allowed him to thrive on the EYBL circuit this summer for Team Herro, along with helping Pewaukee win the Division 2 state championship in Wisconsin last winter.

He will arrive on campus with a slighter frame and will need to add strength to help those tools translate to the next level. He’s still continuing to grow as a ball-handler and has strides to make defensively and on the glass to be a well-rounded player who can be a threat on both ends of the floor.

“Number one is definitely the strength and athleticism piece,” Momcilovic said when asked where his game can still grow. “I think I just got to get stronger, more athletic, just increase my vertical and my lateral quickness, just those things that are going to help me on the court, whether it’s rebounding, defense, offense, I think that’s just obviously the biggest thing I need to work on. Just keep staying in the weight room and grinding.”

Regardless of the areas that still need development, this is a significant recruiting win for Otzelberger and his staff, beating out multiple high major suitors for one of the hottest players on the recruiting circuit throughout the summer.

The class can receive another boost if it is able to add five-star power forward Omaha Biliew, which the industry consensus indicates they have a strong chance to do. The Waukee big man is expected to choose between finalists Iowa State, Kansas, Oregon and the NBA G-League sometime this month.

With the addition of Momcilovic, Iowa State’s recruiting class currently sits at No. 5 nationally, although it is early in the cycle with thousands of players still to make their college decisions. Still, it is notable anytime Iowa State’s class ranks behind only Duke, UConn, Kentucky and Baylor on the national scale.

“Obviously, it’s closer to home, the opportunities there, I love the coaching staff,” Momcilovic said. “Everything’s kind of perfect. I just got to work hard, be humble, stay on the grind, and I think at the end of the day, it’s going to work out.”

Jared Stansbury

administrator

Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.

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