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Kentucky’s Zvonimir Ivišić joins John Calipari, commits to Arkansas

Samuel Colmar
Kentucky forward Zvonimir Ivišić (44) celebrates from the bench during the No. 17 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Alabama men’s basketball match on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 117-95. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

Croatian sensation Zvonimir “Big Z” Ivišić announced on Monday that he would be joining former head coach John Calipari in Fayetteville, committing to Arkansas after entering the transfer portal.

It was a quick turnaround for Ivišić, who entered the portal on April 13.

“I made a the lifetime decision to come to college for few reasons,” Ivišić wrote. “Main ones to win a national championship and go to the NBA. Monumental part of that decision was coach Cal, and no one does both of those at the same time than him. That’s why I am excitd to announce that I am committing to coach Cal and Arkansas Razorbacks! Woo Pig Sooie!!!”

Kentucky forward Zvonimir Ivisic smiles on the bench during the Kentucky vs. Georgia men’s basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 105-96. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff (Abbey Cutrer)

The big man had a one-on-one meeting with new head coach Mark Pope on Monday, with Ivišić announcing on social media that he would be departing Kentucky and committing to Arkansas shortly after.

“Today I met with coach Pope and had a great meeting with him,” Ivišić wrote. “He’s an amazing guy and a great coach and he will do big things her! After our conversation I informed him that I will not be returning to Kentucky.”

Ivišić was limited in his one season with Kentucky, being ineligible to play until conference play due to the NCAA refusing to clear him after he joined the team late. That, as well as a constant stream of illnesses, kept Big Z from truly reaching his full potential, leading the Balkan big to seek an extra year of college.

In his one season Ivišić averaged 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, though it could be argued he peaked in his first ever collegiate game against Georgia.

Scoring 13 points, Ivišić dazzled with big blocks — three to be exact — and a behind-the-back assist to Antonio Reeves that sent Rupp Arena into a frenzy. If all that wasn’t enough, the big man went 3-4 from beyond the arch, hitting three straight 3-pointers.

His highest point-scoring game would come on February 24 when he dropped 18 in a blowout win over No. 13 Alabama, which would go on to reach the Final Four.

Interestingly, all four times Ivišić scored in double figures the Wildcats cracked 100+ points, dropping 105 over the Bulldogs, 109 over Vanderbilt (Ivišić had 11), 117 against Bama and 111 against Arkansas (12 for Big Z).

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About the Contributors
Cole Parke, Sports Editor
Samuel Colmar, Assistant Photo Editor

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