Meet the Miami Heat rookie who looks like a high schooler -- and technically still is one

NEW YORK -- Miami Heat rookie Nikola Jovic is already a highly accomplished 19-year-old.

Jovic was the 27th pick in June's NBA draft, made his NBA preseason debut Tuesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves and impressed in Thursday night's preseason matchup against the Brooklyn Nets with his best showing yet: 10 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in 16 minutes in a 109-80 Heat victory.

There is one task that remains on Jovic's to-do list: Graduating high school.

"He's extremely unique," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after Miami's win. "He's so young.

"To put it in perspective, he's still waiting to do his final exam to graduate from high school, and doing that over Zoom."

To be precise, Jovic has one final step before graduating -- a comprehensive exam to cap his senior year in Serbia. The rest of his classmates took the exam in the spring, when Jovic was going through draft workouts.

"I didn't have time [to take the exam] -- especially because of the time difference," Jovic said with a sheepish smile inside the Barclays Center visiting locker room.

Jovic said he had no regrets about his decision, which didn't sit well with someone in particular: Mom.

"Yeah. At that moment, I would say [the workouts were more important]," Jovic said. "She wanted me to finish school. But I was like, 'Mom!'"

Now, Jovic plans to not only finish high school, but to go on to college after.

"Probably soon, you know," he said, when asked when he'll take the test. "As soon as I have a little me time, I'll do it. As soon as I get in contact with my teachers and stuff, because like I said, the time difference is really [big]."

As his teammates learned of Spoelstra's postgame revelation, Heat veteran Dewayne Dedmon gave Jovic a good-natured ribbing:

"You ain't even graduated high school?" an incredulous Dedmon asked.

"I'm finishing it right now," Jovic said.

"You know, you can't go from high school to the pros yet," Dedmon said in response.

"You can from Europe," Jovic said.

"Apparently," Dedmon said, drawing some laughs.

During Thursday night's win, Jovic flashed some of the all-around skill that led Miami to select the 6-foot-10 forward in the first round out of Mega Mozzart in the Adriatic League, and Spoelstra said he was pleased with how the rookie performed.

"His skill set is unique because of his size," Spoelstra said. "He's really just starting his weight-lifting program with us the last six weeks. So we won't even see the benefit of that until next summer. But then his ability to handle, to shoot, to put the ball on the floor. He's a really good passer. That's probably at this point his best skill, and he's developing all the rest of it.

"[He's] living in a new country, new city, new teammates, he's playing with everybody that's basically 10 years older or more than him, and we're excited about the potential that he brings."

For his part, Jovic said the idea of sharing the court with superstars such as Kevin Durant, who scored 22 points in Brooklyn's loss, was something he'll slowly get used to as he adjusts to life in the NBA.

"Unbelievable," Jovic said. "Last year, I was a kid who was going to high school and after high school I would go home and watch some of those guys on TV, or on YouTube.

"And now I get to play against them. So yeah, it's different. Unbelievable."