08 - 16
July 2023
14 Zvonimir Ivisic (CRO)
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Player Spotlight: Zvonimir Ivisic - Croatia's unicorn

HERAKLION (Greece) - It hasn't been smooth sailing for Croatia during the Group Phase of the FIBA U20 European Championship, as the team managed to win just one game, but the play of Zvonimir Ivisic has certainly been a bright spot. 

Their sole win, however, was a special one for the 19-year-old center, who recorded eight blocks in his team's winning effort - a mark which ties him for the second most blocks ever in a FIBA U20 European Championship game.

FIBA contributor Ignacio Rissotto takes this opportunity to dive into Ivisic's game.


When it comes to offensive impact, it all starts with Ivisic's tremendous physical tools. Standing at 2.19m (7ft 2in) tall, with long arms and above average mobility for his size, Ivisic is an efficient interior finisher who can convert catch-and-finish opportunities at the rim with an impressive combination of power and touch around the basket.

When catching the ball in the paint, Ivisic shows great hands and a tremendous catch radius, which allow him to secure entry passes and hold on to the ball in a crowd. Despite not being extremely explosive off a standstill, his sheer size and standing reach make him a tough cover for opponents as an interior finisher and offensive rebounder, which is evidenced by him shooting 78.6 percent on field goal attempts from inside the arc during the Group Phase.

Ivisic is also a capable self-creator with his back to the basket. He's aggressive to establish deep position in the post and once he catches the ball, he utilizes his fluidity as a ball handler and his polished footwork to get defenders off balance and find the open space with fakes and spin moves.

Despite his efficiency as an interior scorer, it can be argued that Ivisic's most impressive offensive moments happen when he's out in the perimeter. For someone his size, the SC Derby center possesses the ability to bring the ball up in transition and initiate the offense, showing a great level of fluidity and creativity with the ball in his hands for his size.

While he can get too ambitions and careless with his passes, looking for the home-run play and throwing the ball into traffic, he displays creativity and vision as a passer, finding open teammates with simple entry passes from the perimeter, or with passes off the live dribble in transition and in dribble hand off situations.

His shooting is the final piece of his offensive puzzle. While the percentages are certainly not the most eye-popping (27.8 from three-point range during the tournament's Group Phase), Ivisic shows fluid and consistent mechanics on his jumpshot, with a quick trigger and a high release point that allows him to shoot over smaller defenders and makes him a threat in pick-and-pop situations.


While the offense is certainly enticing, the defensive end of the floor is where Ivisic has made the bigger impact, as he's leading the tournament with an average of 4.7 blocks per game.

Ivisic has been Croatia's defensive anchor, protecting the paint both as a primary and as a help defender. Despite his high center of gravity and having a skinny frame, Ivisic does a good job of defending from a standstill on post-ups, making his presence felt and bothering shots with his length.

When he's defending off the ball, Ivisic shows good timing and instincts to rotate and contest shots from the weak side, but he doesn't chase blocks: he's also a disciplined defensive rebounder who displays a high motor and a consistency to box out opponents and come up with boards.

If there's an aspect of his defensive game where he could improve is in his perimeter defense. With his size and high center of gravity, it's hard for Ivisic to stay low in a defensive stance and contain opponents in one-on-one situations in the perimeter. While quicker guards can go by Ivisic when he switches on defense, he does a good job of chasing down the driver and recovering at the rim by contesting and blocking shots.

He does make an impact as a perimeter defender by contesting jumpshots, Croatia's defensive scheme prioritizes rim protection over perimeter defense, which makes Ivisic close out on shooters, an area in which he has been really effective, blocking multiple three point attempts during the tournament.


Ivisic's level of play at Heraklion has cemented his place as not only one of the top big men in the European youth ranks, but also as one of the most unique. It's difficult to find a player who combines the size, length and ability to protect the rim, with perimeter skills such as ball-handling, passing and shooting the way Ivisic does. He will be a name to follow for the 2024 NBA Draft and he should be a part of the national team's future, providing depth to an already terrific rotation of young centers, which include Ivica Zubac, Danko Brankovic and Dragan Bender.