If you were hiking Sabino Canyon on Sunday and saw an unusually large creature on the trail, don’t fret — it was probably just Dusan Ristic.
The Arizona Wildcats’ 7-footer used the day off to give his parents, who are visiting from Serbia for the first time, a glimpse of the Sonoran Desert.
“I’ve been there before, but they haven’t been there before, so I wanted to show them the natural beauty of Tucson,” Ristic said Monday at a weekly press conference. “They were still tired from jetlag and the long trip, so it was good for their legs as well.”
Ristic’s parents, who will be in town until the Monday after Senior Night, aren’t nearly as tall as him — his father is 6-foot-4 and his mother is 5-foot-7 — so they didn’t stand out much on the widely-used trail.
“They’re not extremely tall,” Ristic said.
Ristic, though? A lot of people recognized him. How could they not? He’s seven feet tall and plays on the city’s most popular team.
He didn’t sign any autographs during his hike, but he did take a few selfies.
“I just received love from fans,” Ristic said. “That’s all.”
Ristic explains ‘The Top’
Ristic, averaging career-highs across the board, is playing with more confidence than ever as a senior, which has led to a newfound willingness to fire away from 3.
The big man made two 3s in the win against ASU last Thursday, and made three against Utah, one in the clutch, a few weeks prior.
Ristic is generally a fairly stoic player, but he gets fired up when he sinks a long ball.
“When I made those 3s, I just felt super comfortable and confident as well,” he said. “And I just wanted to give some of that energy to my teammates.”
Ristic also does his patented ‘Top’ celebration whenever he hits a 3, folding his arms into a triangle above his head.
But what exactly does that mean?
“I think I tried to explain the triangle thing my freshman year a few times. It’s pretty much just an inside joke between me and my best friend from Serbia,” Ristic said. “Every time I do something, he would show ‘The Top,’ which means a good move or something like that.”
Ristic has only made 13 3s in four years in Tucson, so ‘The Top’ is cherished in Tucson. It doesn’t come around often.
Ristic can also remember every time he’s displayed it. The very first instance was November 24, 2014 at the Maui Invitational — one of Ristic’s first times playing on ESPN.
“I think it was against Missouri,” he recalls. “I hit a 3 and I showed ‘The Top’ for my best friend.”
Life after basketball?
Ristic will likely depart the UA as the program’s all-time winningest player — he is two victories shy of passing Kaleb Tarczewski and Matt Muehlebach — and he is solely focused on finishing his senior year strong, like locking up the Pac-12 title, and hopefully making a run to the Final Four.
So he has not had much time to reflect on what his future holds.
“I don’t have a lot of free time,” Ristic said. “It’s pretty much school, basketball, and sometimes movies. That’s pretty much it.”
Ristic is a psychology major with a minor in sports management, and while he is “open to all options” for his future, he could see himself working in the business side of basketball once his playing days are over.
“I’ve learned a lot from the game of basketball,” he said. “The game of basketball gave me a lot. So I feel when it’s all said and done I’ll probably have to return to it.”
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire