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UH men’s basketball team lands 6-8 wing from Serbia

  • Associated Press
                                Portland guard Matija Svetozarevic controls the ball during the first half of a game against Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash., on Jan. 29, 2022.
                                Portland guard Matija Svetozarevic controls the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Gonzaga, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, in Spokane, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

    Associated Press

    Portland guard Matija Svetozarevic controls the ball during the first half of a game against Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash., on Jan. 29, 2022.

    Portland guard Matija Svetozarevic controls the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Gonzaga, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, in Spokane, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

The University of Hawaii men’s basketball team went to great lengths — 7,965 miles — to secure a commitment from a 6-foot-8, 215-pound wing from Nis, Serbia.

“I’m excited about coming,” said Matija Svetozarevic, who signed a scholarship agreement and will join the Rainbow Warriors this month. “I know Hawaii has its own culture. I know it’s famous for its beaches and nature.”

Svetozarevic is transferring from Portland, where he played in 28 games, starting one, as a freshman the past season. He averaged 9.7 minutes, but connected on a 93.8% of his free throws (15-for-16). With the Pilots bringing in several older transfers, Svetozarevic was expected to have a reserve role this coming season.

“I started looking at other options,” Svetozarevic said of entering the NCAA’s transfer portal. “I got in touch with (UH associate head coach) John Montgomery. We started talking more and more. Then they offered me, and I accepted the offer.”

Svetozarevic could fill the role vacated by wing/post Jerome Desrosiers’ completion of his NCAA eligibility. Svetozarevic also can play — and defend — the three and four, as well as provide long-range shooting.

Svetozarevic was involved with the Serbian Youth National Team, helping the U-16 team place fifth in the 2018 FIBA European Championships. He also has trained as an amateur with KK Dynamic, a club team. At the urging of friends and teammates, Svetozarevic decided he could advance his basketball skills better in the United States. Through several contacts, he received offers from colleges. “Portland was the best option at the time,” he said.

The ’Bows fill their 13 scholarships with Svetozarevic’s signing.

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