"He's demanding minutes off me. He'll get opportunity as it's deserved and right now he's controlling that space."

14 Sep

Photo: Brisbane Bullets Media

The plan was to ease 17-year-old Rocco Zikarsky into his first NBL season, but nobody told him that.

Brisbane Bullets coach Justin Schueller says the club's Next Star signing has demanded minutes with his pre-season form and the "sky's the limit" as NBA scouts clamour to see the teenager in action.

Zikarsky didn't train on Thursday as he overcame illness, while veteran centre Aron Baynes missed the latter stages of the session as he iced his foot.

Schueller said both would suit up against Melbourne United in Saturday's pre-season NBL Blitz opener on the Gold Coast.

"My expectations; the sky's the limit to be honest," Schueller, who coached Zikarsky as a junior, said.

"Every day he does something we weren't quite ready for, other days he's still a 17-year-old kid."

Zikarsky's first year of NBA draft eligibility will be in 2025.

"We signed him with the idea to ease him into things," Schueller said.

"But he's demanding minutes off me. He'll get opportunity as it's deserved and right now he's controlling that space."

The first-year coach said Zikarsky's motor skills were "second to none" for a player of his size, while experienced point guard Nathan Sobey said the youngster would cope with the rigours of the physical league.

"You forget how young he is," Sobey said.

"The ceiling's so high for that guy.

"We'll keep pushing him to get better and better so he can reach those goals.

"Competing against Baynsey ... to hold his own and give some is pretty special for a 17-year-old.

"Absolutely he'll be ready to go and there will be times we need him for big minutes.

"I don't think there's a better situation for him to be in."

Most NBA clubs will be represented when all 10 NBL teams gather on the Gold Coast for games between Saturday and Friday next week.

The season begins with a throwdown between Melbourne United and South East Melbourne Phoenix on September 28.

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