Top European prospect Ivisic heading to Kentucky

Zvonimir Ivisic, one of the top European prospects in his age group, has committed to Kentucky in the class of 2023, he announced on social media Tuesday.

“I got the offer for scholarship by Coach Calipari to attend the University of Kentucky,” Ivisic wrote on Instagram stories. “I’m excited to tell that I accepted the scholarship and I will play there next season. Go Big Blue!”

Ivisic is a surprising and significant addition in August, as he turns 20 years old next week and already boasts significant experience at the professional level. He is coming off an outstanding showing at the FIBA U20 European Championship a few weeks ago, averaging 11.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in 19 minutes per game for his native country of Croatia, shooting 34% for 3.

Ivisic has been developing in Montenegro the past two seasons alongside his twin brother Tomislav Ivisic at SC Derby, averaging 5.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 10 minutes per game in the Adriatic league. His best game of the season came in the playoffs against Euroleague squad Partizan, one of the best teams in Europe, posting 22 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks in 24 minutes.

At 7-foot-2, Ivisic is a formidable shot-blocking presence who can step out to the 3-point line and finish with authority around the basket. He brings excellent mobility for a player his height.

Ivisic’s commitment represents the sea change that has occurred with the proliferation of Name, Image and Likeness deals, which has allowed international players to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases while playing college basketball, completely changing the European market.

This off-season has seen elite international talents like Aday Mara, Berke Buyuktuncel and Jan Vide commit to play at UCLA, while Arizona reeled in the likes of Motiejus Krivas and Paulius Murauskas from Lithuania. It was previously rare for the top prospects in Europe to elect to leave top clubs for college.

Ivisic entered and withdrew from the previous two NBA Drafts, meaning the next time he enters he will be unable to remove his name from consideration.

Ivisic could fill a major void in the frontcourt as both Aaron Bradshaw, the No. 6 prospect in the 2023 high school class, and Ugonna Onyenso, currently projected as a first round pick in 2024, are injured currently. Onyenso is expected to return in September, while Bradshaw is expected to be cleared in time for the regular season after having foot surgery.

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