Two members from the Region IX Championship Western Nebraska Community College are headed to the Division I level after inking letters of intent recently.
Marlon Sierra will be going to Bowling Green State University while Djordje Dimitrijevic is taking his shooting talents to Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
“Dimitrijevic is excited to be going to Mercer because it is closer to his home country of Serbia.
“For me it is better because it is closer to home and Atlanta is only an hour away from the university,” he said. “I think it will be a very good experience for me. It is also exciting for me [to play at the Division I level] because my future plans is to go to Europe and play professional either in my home country or other countries in Europe. So, it is good for me to go on a good DI level with a good coaching staff. I have room for improvement in my game and my academics.”
Sierra said he is excited to be going to Bowling Green.
“I like Bowling Green because as soon as I got there everybody was welcoming and the vibe was great,” he said. “Also everyone has the same goal of winning so it is definitely a place I want to be at.”
Sierra is excited to be playing at the Division I level with a program that went 16-16 and lost in the first-round of the Mid-American Conference tournament to Central Michigan in overtime.
“It [Division I] is a dream come true and that is the reason I started playing basketball in the first place,” he said. “It always has been in my mind so it was just trying to get to the next level.”
Bowling Green coach Michael Huger is excited to get the 6-foot-6 forward in his program.
“I’m excited to welcome Marlon Sierra to our program. Marlon will bring some toughness and grit to our power forward position,” Huger said in a press release. “He has terrific situational awareness and can affect the game in multiple ways. His rebounding, physicality and ability to score will make him a valuable piece of our team the next two seasons. Adding Marlon to our roster gives us a diverse group of players who can contribute at the power forward spot. I believe Marlon will have a terrific career at Bowling Green.”
Sierra appeared in 62 games over his two years at WNCC. Sierra averaged 12.3 points, 2.5 assists and a team-high 6.8 rebounds last season for the Region IX champion Cougars. Sierra also shot 46.5 percent from downtown on 71 attempts.
Dimitrijevic will join a Mercer program that finished 19-15 on the season and lost in the second round of the CBI (College Basketball Invitational). Mercer coach Bob Hoffman said Dimitrijevic will be a great addition to the Bear program.
“Djordje is an all-around player who contributes in every area of the game to help your team win,” Coach Hoffman said in a press release. “I believe he will be a tremendous asset to our program and we are thrilled he is joining our team.”
Dimitrijevic, a 6-1, 180-pounder, came to WNCC from Grdelica, Serbia. Dimitrijevic averaged 13.6 points and 3.1 assists per game this past season. Over a two-year period, he started 60 of 63 games, was a career 89 percent free-throw shooter, shot 48.3 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from 3-point range. Dimitrijevic buried 63 3-pointers and finished his career with 110 treys. He scored 858 points in his two years at WNCC.
Dimitrijevic said it was special to be a part of this team, helping them win a Region IX championship and making it to the second-round of the national tournament.
“It [winning regionals] was a big thing for the community because they haven’t got a Region IX title in 17 years,” he said. “I think the school and the basketball program is going back on its right ways as before.”
The sharp-shooting guard said he has improved a ton under the WNCC coaching staff.
“The coaching staff was with us every day and they were willing to be in the gym 24/7 with us and work on our game,” he said. “I think that was not only helpful for me, but the whole basketball team.”
Sierra and Dimitrijevic said it is going to be hard to leave Western Nebraska after two years at this college.
“It is going to be hard to leave here,” Dimitrijevic said. “But on the other side I can’t wait to go home and see my family but I know the bonds I created here, the people I met, will always be a part of my life. Hopefully I will have a chance to visit this place someday in my life.”
Sierra said while he is excited to get closer to home, it will be hard to leave WNCC later this month.
“It definitely is going to be tough because I am a type of person that when I get attached to stuff, so I will miss every single person here,” he said. “I am going to miss this place and the lifestyle I had here. But I am definitely looking towards the next chapter and see my family.”
Dimitrijevic and Sierra said there are many people that made his stay in the Nebraska Panhandle a hardy one wish they want to thank.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone that came tonight to support us, especially to the coaching staff who pushed me to be a better man each and every day while I was a Cougar,” Dimitrijevic said. “I also want to say thank you to my dorm family who helped me enormously in many ways and they helped me be at where I am at right now.”
Sierra echoed the same thing.
“I just want to say thank you to Scottsbluff and all the friends I created here like my teammates dorm family,” he said. “The dorm parent program is very important because basketball is only two ours of the day, so the other times of the day you are either doing homework or you are bored so the dorm family is a way to get out and explore and create more of a bond with other people. It is definitely a place that I am going to come back as soon as possible to see the people that I care about.”
Last season, WNCC finished with a 27-8 record and culminated with the program’s first trip to the NJCAA National Tournament since 2001. The Cougars defeated Holmes Community College in their first game of the NJCAA National Tournament before falling to Northwest Florida State College.