Hodzic took unusual path to hoops stardom

Adnan Hodzic's journey to Lipscomb didn't follow the traditional path. As a young boy in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, Hodzic was more concerned with his family's future than with shooting baskets.

“I remember the war," said the Bisons forward. "Americans typically see war from far away. This was in my hometown.”

Hodzic fled the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia at age 8 with his mother and sister and emigrated to the United States. Hodzic’s father, Mehmed, fought in the war for another year and a half before eventually joining his family in Columbus, Ohio. Hodzic described that period as “the toughest of my life.”

Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Indianapolis.

“My father has taught me a lot about toughness. He has taught me a lot about life. He has been through so much that whenever we sit down and talk at night, I am all eyes and ears,” said Hodzic.

That toughness and willingness to learn is on full display on the basketball court.

Hodzic dreamed of being a professional soccer player like his father, but he was tall, lanky and lacked the ball skills and quickness necessary to compete at the highest levels. He decided to try out for the basketball team in the 7th grade and he was summarily cut the team.

His first attempt at organized basketball would not be his last. Hodzic had a passion for the game, so he went to the local YMCA every day and practiced. The next year, all he lacked was confidence. Several of his friends had to talk him into trying out again.

This time, Hodzic made the team.

“It was the greatest feeling ever,” Hodzic explained. “I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I got my jersey, that was the best ever. I wanted to be great.”

Hodzic's high school career was about being great teammate for Eric Gordon at Indianapolis North Central High School. Gordon was a McDonald’s All-American and Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 2007. Hodzic was a very good player, but as he said, “Eric Gordon took over games at times and won them singlehandedly.”

Hodzic learned the value of hard work from Gordon, whom he described as a role model.

It's a lesson Hodzic continues to learn from his coaches at Lipscomb. Coach Scott Sanderson and his staff have his ear.

“I play for great coaches. I’m a perfectionist type of person. When I can’t do something, I do whatever it takes to get it done.” Hodzic said. “I listen to my coaches and digest it. Sometimes it’s hard but I have learned to listen to what they say rather than how they say it sometimes.”

Hodzic continues to improve because he is willing to listen. But he's also willing to do some talking, too. When asked whether he is the leader of this team, he responded immediately: “Yes sir, I am the leader.”

Last year, Hodzic was named Atlantic Sun Player of the Year after averaging more than 22 points per game. This year, the Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year is carrying averaging 20.8 points and 8.9 rebounds, even though he's the top target for most defenses. Against the Power 6 teams, Hodzic has averaged more than 19 points and nearly eight rebounds since his sophomore year.

Hodzic wants to return to Bosnia and live someday. “Bosnia is much improved," he explained, "It’s beautiful and it is my home.”