2018 Draft Workouts: Džanan Musa

June 11, 2018 - 19-year-old forward Džanan Musa from Bosnia and Herzegovina speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss about his first pre-draft workout with an NBA team.

Draft Workouts 180611

Scroll Video up Scroll Video down Scroll Video left Scroll Video right

2018 Draft Workouts: Džanan Musa

June 11, 2018 - 19-year-old forward Džanan Musa from Bosnia and Herzegovina speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss about his first pre-draft workout with an NBA team.
Jun 11, 2018  |  02:11

2018 Draft Workouts: Tyler Wideman

June 11, 2018 - Butler big man Tyler Wideman spoke with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss after his pre-draft workout with the team.
Jun 11, 2018  |  01:30

2018 Draft Workouts: Bruce Brown Jr.

June 11, 2018 - After his pre-draft workout with the team, Miami guard Bruce Brown Jr. discussed it with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss.
Jun 11, 2018  |  01:38

2018 Draft Workouts: Devon Hall

Virginia guard Devon Hall talked to Pacers.com following his pre-draft workout on Monday. Hall discussed which aspects of his game he feels can translate to the NBA and how playing four years has given him added experience.
Jun 11, 2018  |  01:25

2018 Draft Workouts: Thomas Welsh

UCLA center Thomas Welsh talked to Pacers.com about how he improved his 3-point shot throughout his time in college and what he feels he can add to an NBA roster.
Jun 11, 2018  |  01:18

Musa Knows How to "Give All to Basketball"

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

It was one of those routine pre-draft workout interviews, in which players well-versed in how to talk with the media profess confidence in their NBA hoop dreams.

Džanan Musa (pronounced JA-nan MOO-sa) was gliding through that perfunctory obligation at St. Vincent Center on Monday after working out for the Pacers, and had just about exhausted all the questions from reporters when he dropped a golden nugget into the conversation.

It was the one about living on his own, nearly five hours from his parents, to attend a basketball academy in Sarajevo, the largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina — at age 11.

Yes, 11.

Also known as eleven.

Two years short of being a teenager.

Of course he was living on a school campus, rooming with a relative or older kids, right??

"Nah," he said. "Just on my own. Just on my own."

On your own?

"Strange, but you have to sacrifice to become a professional basketball player. When you want to become a legend, you have to give all to basketball."

Even at 11.

You can decide for yourself whether Musa's parents were negligent or the ultimate in non-helicopter parenthood, but it seems to have worked for him. Now just a month past turning 19, he's widely regarded as a first-round selection in the June 21 draft, one who could be available to the Pacers with the 23rd pick. He shows up in some mock drafts going ahead of Pacers and in others after the Pacers select, but he remains a possibility.

RELATED: Local Favorite Wideman Works Out for "Home Team" »

In his analysis, though, he should be long gone before the Pacers' turn comes around.

"I think that I'm lottery," he said. "But if things don't go (that way) I have to satisfy myself with the first-round pick. But I think that I will show as time goes that I will be able to play at the highest level."

Hey, if you can handle living on your own in a dangerous city at age 11, you develop confidence. Musa has it, and has some justification for it. He turned pro at 16 as the ninth-youngest player to compete in the EuroLeague. He excelled in Under-16 and Under-17 competition, earning several individual and team honors, and once scored 50 points in 27 minutes against a Chinese team in the World Cup tournament. This past season, playing for Cedevita in the Croatian League, he scored 35 points in 27 minutes in a game.

He's regarded as fearless, energetic, versatile, and essentially ambidextrous. But he also lacks NBA athleticism, strength (he's 6-foot-9 and says he's 200 pounds), and refinement. Some of his shortcomings will fade with age, but having just turned 19 he remains an uncertain prospect.

He could become a steal for a team that drafts him late in the first round, or he might never mature enough physically to become an effective NBA player.

Logically, he should have waited another year or two to develop before entering the NBA Draft, but there's been nothing logical about his career to this point. Why change now?

"I think I'm ready," he said. "I have enough talent. But I wanted to show the NBA and the scouts here that I want to work hard and develop myself as the player I want to be."

Monday's workout was Musa's first for an NBA team. He has four more scheduled, for Portland, Denver, San Antonio, and Utah. They aren't lottery teams, to Musa's disappointment, but teams with first-round picks in the same neighborhood as the Pacers.

Musa's confidence doesn't appear to be a cover for insecurities. It's hard-earned, through all those lonely nights in Saravejo. He readily admits to the difficulty of being an 11-year-old kid in a dangerous city, of packing his bags two or three times to prepare to go home. But his love for basketball always won out.

"It was hard," he said. "I struggled a lot.

"I cried almost every day for the first three or four months, but at that point I get over it and I made friends there. I'm good about it now."

Musa's parents paid for his apartment and meal vouchers, which enabled him to eat at a nearby campus with older students, but they couldn't protect him in a city where the streets go dark at night. He made friends with older teammates, with whom he practiced two or three times nearly each day.

"The lights would go out at 9 at night, and we would have to walk 25 minutes uphill to go home," he said.

"It was tough for them and for me. But they were like dogs in the city; they were tough. I had no problems."

He doesn't expect problems now. But confidence aside, he knows he's a project. No matter how mature he might be emotionally, he'll need time to improve physically. "I have to gain some muscles," he says.

He's also aware of the pitfalls for players who try to enter the NBA too soon.

"They see me as a project," he said. "A lot of rookies are thrown to the dust. I don't want to let that happen to me. I want to compete and I want to show I can play on the highest level.

"I have to work a lot on myself."

Musa is fluent in the NBA, watching "every single game if I can" when they come on at 3 a.m. in his country. He's also fluent in English. And, he fully understands the nature of auditions such as the one he had on Monday, to the point he can make rather sophisticated jokes.

Asked which NBA teams he followed most closely, he said, "Indian...," purposely cutting off the response before adding, "I'm just kidding."

He was saying what he was supposed to say, and let it be known he knew exactly what he was doing. He added, though, that he likes the playing style of the Pacers, and made it a point to include two of the other three teams he'll be working out for, Portland and Atlanta, as well as San Antonio.

"...the teams who share the ball," he said. "I like that kind of basketball. I don't like the run-and-gun basketball. I like the European style of basketball."

This 19-year-old is about to enter a brave new world. But then it won't be the first time.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.