Really a long player, at 7'1 Mile Ilic enjoys enough athleticism to be considered a very interesting prospect. He shows decent mobility, being able to run the court pretty well as a trailer, and a nice vertical leap. Already quite a good shot blocker, his leaping ability and long wingspan gives him the potential to become a great one. He also shines as an offensive rebounder, getting many rebounds with those physical gifts and his eagerness looking for them.
Besides scoring some easy baskets off of put-backs and offensive rebounds in general, Ilic shows an incipient mid-range jumper that, if properly worked on, could help him a lot to raise his production. He also has some game with his back to the basket, especially scoring off turnaround jumpers or a semi-hook shot. Although not having great handles, he can put the ball on the floor to try the penetration. His first step isn't anything more than average, but his long strides do the rest. He's not a bad passer, particulary facing the basket.
More than anything, Ilic shows potential, great potential to become a nice inside presence on both ends of the court. He has been playing significant minutes with Reflex's first team from not long ago, and he has already given signs of his great possibilities as a player.
Every way you look at Ilic it screams raw. He has yet to mature in every aspect of his game and body. He's very skinny (no big surprise here) and a little bit narrow-shouldered, although his frame is not bad at all and his legs are a little bit more developed. His lack of strength gets exposed when he gets banged in the paint, especially on the defensive end, where he finds it hard to contain his matchups and to secure the defensive rebound, but also offensively, not gaining good positing on the low post and setting poor screens.
In general, his overall defensive display isn't satisfactory. He shows good intensity defending one on one, but he abuses his attempts to block shots. He jumps too often trying to cut down a shooters attempt, which makes him rather easy to fake out and get out of position, which allows easy baskets and offensive rebounds. He follows this same pattern regarding team defense, looking for the block instead of placing himself between the player and the basket. In this case, it's more than a real effort to avoid the basket, it looks like an apparent solution for these situations, as his rotations aren't intense and agressive enough.
On the offensive end he needs to polish his game. He isn't one of those super-skilled perimeter players. No fancy handles, no NBA three-point range. His jump shoot is rather inconsistent. He's a poor free-throw shooter, and that's quite an accurate reflection of his ability with the clock on. But his mechanics, although still a little bit slow and not very fluid, aren't really bad, so a significant improvement during the next years wouldn't be strange at all. His post-up game is limited right now and this should be one of his main strenghts given his profile. Not only working on movements, but also gaining strength to feel more comfortable and secure in the paint. If he did, he would be a serious threat in the low post. Finally, he sometimes looks too static on court. It isn't the rule, because other times he asks for the ball like crazy, but I would like to see more action out of him.
Mile Ilic got a taste of competition in 3 of the more prominent European leagues this season. He played 5 games in the ULEB Cup, Europe's 2nd best intercontinetal competition, averaging 5ppg and 2.4rpg in 8mpg. KK Reflex reached the semifinals in ULEB Cup.
Ilic played an astonishing number of 14 games in the Adriatic League, a regional competition comprised of teams from the former Yugoslav republics in an attempt to revive that region's once excellent league. Mile averaged 3.1ppg and 1rpg in 8mpg. KK Reflex won that league's championship.
He had just finished competing in the Efes Super League, which comprises best of Serbian teams--both those who had competed in the Adriatic and those who hadn't. He played 3 games and averaged 8ppg and 3rpg. KK Refex dissapointed in that league, probably feeling the effects of a very fast paced first half of the season, and finished out of the playoffs.
Ilic had declared for the 2004 draft, but withdrew because he never had an intention of staying in the draft. Getting his name heard was a part of his tactic this time around, hoping to get scouts to pay more attention to his games next season. However, scouts are bound to attend his games regardless, because of his teammate Nemanja Aleksandrov. Next year, with more playing time and given the appropiate work and improvement, he might have a chance at a late first round pick.
It was interesting to hear the opinion of Vlada Djurovic, the coach who had first given him a chance on the senior level: ''Coaches need to be patient with him. He's moving ahead slowly, but surely. He has the right approach to practice and pays attention to things that are told to him. He is past the learning phase of the game, and now has to concentrate on perfecting what he has been taught so far. If he gets room during the next season, he could be a very pleasant surprise.''
Ilic is another of those young raw Europeans with potential, and although he's not as skilled as some of his countrymen, his physical and athletic profile is quite intriguing. He's player to be followed closely.
Noteworthy Stuff: Mile Ilic has had the fortune of playing with two great NBA prospects. First one wsa 2003 NBA Draft #2 overall pick Darko Milicic, who was Mile's teammate in KK Hemofarm's farm (no pun intended) system, i.e. its junior team during the 2000/01 season.
Second teammate of his that could be a very high draft choice was/is Nemanja Aleksandrov, projected #1 overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft. They shared the court throughout KK Reflex's organization, both in its senior team and its junior affiliate, KK Zeleznik Workers. Deemed more ready for the senior team, Mile was called up from the Workers earlier than most and is still with the senior team, at season's end. KK Reflex tried to call up other young prospects in its organization, including Aleksandrov and Labovic, once the season was lost (eliminated from playoff berth), but league regulations wouldn't allow so.