Nik Vucevic is 7 feet tall now, but when he first started playing basketball as a kid in Europe, he was shorter than the forwards and centers on his youth teams. For that reason, coaches originally played him at point guard. As time went on, he moved into the frontcourt.
His experience playing every position shapes his game now.
Just ask Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, who likely will start Vucevic at center in the team's home preseason opener Thursday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
"Nik is extremely skilled," Vaughn said. "He can shoot from the perimeter. He's legitimately big. [He has] a good wingspan on him. He knows how to play the game and has a good touch around the rim."
Vucevic should feel extra motivation against Philadelphia. After playing for Philly as a rookie last season, the Sixers included him in the four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Vucevic also is competing for the Magic's starting center job. On a team that lost its two best rebounders in the offseason — Howard and Ryan Anderson — he'll need to be effective on the boards. He did well in the team's exhibition opener over the weekend, grabbing nine rebounds in 15 minutes.
"As a big guy, that's something I have to do, but I think I have a good feeling for it," Vucevic said. "It's something like to do. I like to go get rebounds with both hands. I've just got to go hard. That's all there is to it."
The Magic on Friday will hold their 22nd annual OMYF Open golf tournament to benefit the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation at Disney's Palm and Magnolia courses. There are still vacancies for the tournament, team officials said. For more information, go to OMYFopen.org.
Former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and former Magic general manager Otis Smith are teaming up again.
Van Gundy will host a fundraiser this Sunday to try to build support for a proposed property-tax increase for Seminole County public schools. Smith and Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will join Van Gundy at the event.
The fundraiser will be held from 4-7 p.m. at Sam Snead's Tavern at 1801 Maitland Blvd., near RDV Sportsplex. The cost is $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and the price covers food and non-alcoholic drinks. For more information, go to YesForSeminoleSchools.com.
The proposed property-tax increase will be decided by a voter referendum in the Nov. 6 general election.
• After Wednesday's practice, Magic players and coaches met with NBA referee operations official Joe Borgia to learn about referees' points of emphasis for the upcoming season.
• Magic officials said 900 tickets remained for Thursday night's exhibition as of noon Wednesday. For each game, the team offers 2,500 seats priced $20 or less, but it's unclear how many tickets remain available in that price range.
• The Magic will hold a shootaround on its practice court a couple of hours before tipoff against the Sixers. Vaughn said he hasn't determined when he'll hold shootarounds on home game days. It's possible he'll mix and match, with some in the morning and some in the late afternoon.
• The Magic are listing swingmen Arron Afflalo and Christian Eyenga as "doubtful" for the exhibition because of hamstring injuries.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun