By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – From Italy to Greece to Serbia to the United States, Iowa men’s basketball newcomer Filip Rebraca already has traveled to and lived in more places than many do in a lifetime.
Now, the Sombor, Serbia, native will likely play his final two seasons of college basketball in Iowa City after transferring from North Dakota.
Rebraca, who signed with the Hawkeyes on April 26, met with the Iowa media on Tuesday for the first time since arriving in Iowa City.
“Being here, it’s a great town, a great college town,” Rebraca said. “I’ve gotten to see a few places here and there. It’s a really nice place to be. I like being in bigger places, so I think this is a little bit better for me than Grand Forks, North Dakota. I have no complaints so far. I think I’m in a great place.”
Much of Rebraca’s travels were because of his father’s professional basketball career that spanned over 15 seasons between the NBA and Europe.
Rebraca was born in Italy while his father played professionally, but his hometown is still listed as Sombor, Serbia.
Rebraca finished high school in Colorado, then spent a year at Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Mass., before landing in North Dakota where he started 74 of 87 games in three seasons.
Last season at North Dakota, the 6-foot-9, 225-pound Rebraca averaged 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and shot a team-leading 50.6% from the field.
“It was very different,” Rebraca said. “I feel like this was my first time being in the Midwest, just the people, the culture and whatnot. I’ll never forget the winters up there. It’s probably the most brutal thing I’ll ever experience. It’s a place I really called home for three years and it gave me a lot of opportunities to not only become a better athlete and student but also a better student. I really cherished my time over there.”
Rebraca should be an immediate contributor with the departure of Jack Nunge and Iowa’s all-time leading scorer and National Player of the Year Luka Garza.
Iowa also has 6-foot-11 incoming freshman Riley Mulvey and 6-foot-11 sophomore center Josh Ogundele, though Ogundele played limited minutes in eight games as a freshman last season.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery told reporters last week that Rebraca can play several different roles for the Hawkeyes.
“I think he fits in perfectly,” McCaffery said. “He’s a really skilled 6-9 guy that can rebound, and he can handle it, and can shoot it, and can drive it. He can pass. He gives us a lot of versatility.”
Basketball wasn’t the only reason Rebraca decided to transfer from North Dakota to Iowa.
North Dakota’s lack of graduate programs that piqued Rebraca’s interest also was a big factor.
Rebraca will have two years of eligibility remaining and said Tuesday his plan is to be in Iowa City both years.
“I don’t want to leave things unfinished,” Rebraca said. “My plan is for two years, but if I have an exceptional season and I have an opportunity to go pro and earn a lot of money, I guess, it’s always something you have to take into consideration, but I’m strongly leaning toward staying here for two years.”