KITCHENER – Milana Nenadic paid a visit to the University of Maine over the weekend and felt an instant connection.
She said to herself: This is it. This is where she wanted to spend the next four years of her life.
As such, the popular student-athlete signed a full scholarship to play NCAA Division 1 basketball beginning in the fall of 2022. Nenadic, a third-year student at Cameron Heights and a rising star on the Canadian basketball scene, chose Maine over several suitors and would seek To make an immediate impact, the Black Bears have appeared in nine NCAA games, most recently in 2018 and 2019.
“The first thing that caught my eye, really made me want to go there, was the people. They are amazing, and they are just like family,” said the six-foot-three, Ninadik.
“When I met them (the coaches, my teammates), they were so amazing; I felt like I’ve known them all my life. It was really great, a really great experience.”
The connection does not begin with the “family” and ends with the women’s basketball team.
Ninadik’s older brother, Milos, is a six-foot-10 attacking newcomer with the Maine men’s basketball team and had nothing but good things to say about the school during last weekend’s visit that included their parents, Dragan and Dragana.
“I think just being there, supporting and guiding him, is really helpful to me, especially when I am a freshman coming next year,” she said. “Being the youngest player on the team, I think having my brother there will really help me.”
16-year-old Nenadik had to reclassify (change her graduation year) before signing with Maine, which means she’ll have enough credits to graduate from high school in June. She was previously enrolled in the Cameron Heights IB program but switched to the academic level in September to accommodate early graduation. She was accepted into the Business-Finance program in Maine, with a long-term goal of attending law school.
Nenadic’s signature has earned him prominence on the University of Maine Athletics Department website.
“We are excited to announce the addition of Milana to the black bear family,” trainer Amy Vachon said on a website. “Milana is a versatile athlete who will add much-needed volume to our program. She has experience at an international level and hails from a basketball family. In addition to her prowess on the court, Milana is an amazing personality and an exceptional student. We are very excited to announce that Milana Ninadić has joined us at UMaine at UMaine.” 2022!”
Ninadić is coming off a strong season at Cameron Heights, leading the Golden Giles in scoring goals in every game and concluding her high school career with a 26-point loss in a 51-46 quarterfinal match against eventual champion Elmira Lancer. She’s training with Oakville Vytis outside of school and will play in the JUEL of Ontario this winter.
Canada Basketball has been in contact with Nenadic since 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic has twice prevented her from playing in an international competition. The 2020 Women’s Basketball U-17 World Cup in Romania was cancelled, and in August, Ninadik was unable to participate in the FIBA U-16 Americas Championship in Mexico because she had not been fully vaccinated.
With these two disappointments behind her, she hopes to make her debut for her national team at next year’s FIBA U-17 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 in Hungary.
“I hope, if all goes well, there will be an under-17 championship, and I will be there,” Ninadić said.
Ninadić participated in the women’s basketball game and the men’s hockey game during her weekend visit to Maine and said the atmosphere was great at both events. The campus itself is located in Orono, a city of about 10,000 residents located 50 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean.
The Black Bears compete in the 10-school America East Conference, and are winless (0-3) this season after a no-conference loss to Delaware Monday night.
Maine won the regular season American Eastern Championship and the conference championships in 2018 and 2019. The Black Bears won the regular season title last year but lost to Stony Brook (New York) in the conference championship.