RIVERSIDE — Most high school athletes that have the opportunity to play in college can’t wait to get started.
Riverside Brookfield senior Mike Ljuboja is taking a more patient approach.
The Bulldog basketball standout had the grades and the offers to play college ball, with offers ranging from Division I Chicago State to smaller programs in the Midwest. Instead, Ljuboja chose to attend Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H. next school year.
Ljuboja skipped a grade in school when he was younger. Going to prep school gives him the opportunity to balance the playing field.
“It gives me that year to catch up with my age group,” Ljuboja said. “I’ve been a year young this whole time.”
Ljuboja admitted there was some risk to turning down the college scholarship offers, but was willing to make the unconventional move.
“I think just having an extra year is just going to give me a chance to grow as a person and a basketball player so I think it will be good for me,” he said.
Multiple prep schools showed interest in Ljuboja, but he thinks Phillips Exeter is a place that will give him the best opportunity to develop on and off the court.
Exeter has a long list of famous alumni, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The school has an enrollment of just over 1,000 and a prestigious reputation.
“Exeter has amazing academic tradition and also as of late they’ve been a very, very good basketball program,” Ljuboja said. “This last year they went 25-1. It’s just a really great fit for me.”