Not only did the August tour of Italy give Georgia's basketball team an opportunity to get in some much-needed work, it proved to be a homecoming of sorts for Nemanja Djurisic whose parents got to see him play for the first time.
"They met the coaches for the first time and my teammates; it meant a lot to them and meant a lot to me," Djurisic said. "We spent two days together in Venice then they watched the game. They were really pleased with the team and the coaches. They were surprised, to be honest."
Head coach Mark Fox said the meeting was something he won't soon forget, either.
"I don't know what their anticipation was, but the first thing we did was hug 'em," Fox said. "They entrusted their son to us, so it was neat to spend a little time with them."
Snezana Djurisic and Ranko Djurisic traveled all the way from their home in Podgorica, Montenegro to see their son play.
"You forget how hard it is to be away from your family. For them to see him and immediately start crying because he is away from them so much, it really helped remind me how big of a challenge it is for him," Fox said. "It's hard, so it gave me a greater appreciation for what he goes through but they're passionate people and I was glad they could see him play."
Djurisic - "Nemi" to everyone who knows him at Georgia - admits his being away has not been easy on his parents, especially his mom, who does not speak a word of English.
"It's hard to send your kids away to be with someone who you've never met, so for my mom, it was great," he said. "Now she's calm, she knows I'm with great people. Coach Fox and all the assistant coaches, they were so warm and nice to her. She is pleased with me being here."
As for the trip to Italy, where the Bulldogs toured and against a number of club teams, Djurisic found himself serving as the team's "unofficial" guide, much to his chagrin.
"They asked me all the questions, even things I don't even know," Djurisic laughed. "They would ask me things about each city, like I'm from Italy or something. But it was important to me too because my parents got to see me."
Fox said he got a kick out of that as well.
"Nemi's a great kid, great charisma, he's a charming young man, he's very intelligent and he's a good basketball player. I enjoy coaching him," Fox said. "He understood the European culture, but everybody thought he was the expert. He was the expert in many ways, but certainly not on Italian history."
NOTES: Fans wanting to get their first look at the Georgia men's and women's program can do so tonight by attending Basketbash at Stegeman Coliseum. Doors open at 7 p.m. and admission is free. The event includes autographs with both teams from 7-8, games for kids, with the first 1,000 to walk through the door receiving free Georgia basketball T-shirts. The team will practice from approximately 8:15-9:15.