Wherever he’s lived, Michael Jankovich has always found a home on the basketball court.
Indeed, as the son of a college coach, basketball has been a constant for Jankovich since he was born, even as his family has lived the somewhat nomadic lifestyle common in the profession. But now he seems to have found some stability, both on and off the court.
His father, Tim, is beginning his first season as the head coach at SMU after serving the past four years as the top assistant under Larry Brown. And Michael is the leading scorer at Jesuit, where he’s starting his junior season as a highly recruited guard.
“He likes being in the gym. I think it’s where he feels most comfortable. It’s where you’re confident and make friends,” said Jesuit head coach Chris Hill.
“He’s kind of a quiet kid, but his game is loud.”
Jankovich was born in Nashville, when his dad was an assistant at Vanderbilt. He grew up in Champaign, Illinois; Lawrence, Kansas; and Normal, Illinois — each for a few years. The family settled in University Park in 2012, when Tim took the SMU job after a successful stint at Illinois State.
“I just try to adjust as best I can and make the most of it,” said Michael, who played at Highland Park as a freshman before transferring to Jesuit. “When you’re around it your whole life, it just becomes part of you.”
Last season, Jankovich made his varsity debut for the Rangers and emerged as the top scoring threat for a team that finished 19-9 and made the Class 6A playoffs. He led Jesuit with 15.3 points per game while connecting on almost 50 percent of his shots from the field.
Hill said Jankovich has worked hard during the offseason to diversify his game, complementing his sharpshooting ability with improved passing, ball-handling, and rebounding.
“If you tell him to do things, he does them. He loves working hard,” said Hill, whose father is former longtime college and NBA coach Bob Hill. “When he sees an opportunity or a need, he commits to it.”
Jankovich is proud of his name and family legacy. When he’s not in school, he’s often sporting SMU gear or cheering on the Mustangs, even though he doesn’t know where he’ll attend college just yet. But just because he shares a passion with his father doesn’t mean he wants to ride coattails.
“I’m trying to make my own path,” Jankovich said. “That’s definitely important to me. I want to have my own success.”