Kentucky Basketball Landing ‘Croatia’s Unicorn’ Reflects Unique New Relationship Between NIL, International Stars

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Kentucky basketball’s 2023 recruiting class is ridiculously talented. John Calipari has done it again!

The Wildcats currently rank first in the nation on all major recruiting sites for this current cycle and the talented group of players grew by one on Tuesday. Zvonimir Ivisic, one of the top prospects in Europe, committed to play for Big Blue.

They call him “Croatia’s Unicorn” and it’s not hard to see why. Ivisic recently turned 20 years old, stands 7-foot-3, and does it all.

He’s a big who can shoot threes, run the floor, score in traffic, lock down an opposing back court in space, and box out opposing bigs in the paint. His highlight tape is a lot of fun.

Ivisic joins a recruiting class alongside three top-10 players in the country, including two in the top-five, two four-stars and a pair of three-stars. Tre Mitchell, who left West Virginia after Bob Huggins’ ousting, will also play in Lexington next season.

The class is loaded.

Kentucky basketball’s newest commit reflects an interesting trend.

For Ivisic to decide that playing college basketball in the United States is the best move for his career marks a new revolution within the sport. International players are seeing new opportunity.

Prior to Name, Image and Likeness, internationals typically chose to play professionally in their home country or with an adjacent league. They were able to make money, build tape against top overseas competition, and enter the NBA Draft upon eligibility.

NIL allows for a different path. Top internationals can play college basketball while getting a similar paycheck to play against top American competition.

Ivisic is one example. Others include:

  • UCLA
    • Spanish seven-footer Aday Mara, 18
    • Turkish phenom Berke Buyktuncel, 18
    • Slovenian rising star Jan Vide, 18
  • Arizona
    • Lithuanian seven-footer Motiejus Krivas, 18
    • Lithuanian NBA Draft prospect Paulius Murauskas, 18

There are many other instances of this new wave. Rarely did top European prospects leave top international clubs for college in the past.

NIL has opened up a new way to do things and its proving valuable for top college basketball programs in the international space. The sport is better for it!

Written by Grayson Weir

Grayson doesn't drink coffee. He wakes up Jacked.

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