Last week, we released an article about a former Toronto FC Academy player attending the InfoSports combine in Florida, this week we are covering another TFC Academy alumni set to attend another combine in Florida. Serbian-born and University of Florida defender Nikola Paunic is set to take part in the 2015 Major League Soccer combine.
Nikola Paunic has spent the past two years of his playing career in Florida but his soccer career started long beforehand. After moving to Canada from Bosnia (born in Montenegro of Serbian descent), Paunic played with the Serbian White Eagles Academy as well as the Toronto FC Academy, where he acted as team captain in 2011 and 2012. The center back has also represented Canada at the under-20 level.
Whilst at the University of South Florida, he started 40 of a possible 41 games, scoring once against Cincinnati, in the two years he played with the Bulls. In 2014, he was named to the American Athletic Conference All-Tournament Team as the Bulls would go on to lose to Tulsa on penalties.
Looking to the Major League Soccer Combine and Draft, Paunic should be a late second round (picks 22-42) to early third round pick (picks 43-62). Top scouting site Top Drawer Soccer had him going 48th in November and 41st in December in their Draft Board.Toronto FC will be extremely busy on the two Draft Day's with picks 6 (via Chivas), 9 (natural), 11 (via Portland), 29 (via Houston), 37 (via Salt Lake), 50 (natural), 70 (natural), and 81 (via New England).
Toronto FC could use a player like Paunic to not only add depth to the first-team but to also have the opportunity to develop in Toronto's new USL-Pro team. Players like Allando Matheson and Nikola Paunic are both Academy players that could potentially "re-sign" with Toronto and develop in this new team in hopes of returning to the national pool.