Slovakians are frequent visitors to basketball arenas. However, they’re used to playing on a sheet of ice with a puck instead of the hardwood and hoops. They’re a breed that appears on just one percent of NCAA Division I basketball teams. Now, the Orange is a part of that one percent with the addition of Slovak product Marek Dolezaj. In 2016, only six players from the country appeared on a D-1 roster. However, despite being small in numbers, some of these players have made major contributions to their teams.
The TCU Horned Frogs’s should play the Slovakian anthem before every game after the contributions they received. Vladimir Brodzinsky paced Jamie Dixon’s squad with 14.1 points per game to go along with almost six boards per game. Also, the Horned Frogs weren’t the slouch they typically are in the college basketball world. TCU wiped through the competition en route to claiming the NIT championship, a feat Syracuse fell short of.
Aside from Brodzinsky, only one other Slovak plays in a Power Five conference, and that is Maryland’s Michal Cekovsky. The seven-footer only averaged 13.2 minutes per game, but made the most of that time by scoring 7.6 points. Cekovsky started the season very strong against Power Five non-conference opponents like Kansas State, Pitt and Oklahoma State. However, his minutes severely dipped once Big Ten play kicked in as he battled injuries throughout the season and finally saw his year come to an end after a fractured ankle.
Aside from these two, Norbert Janicek (Utah State), Jakub Petras (Stony Brook), Jaro Moravek (Troy) and Oliver Tot (William & Mary) are the only other Slovaks in the NCAA and all have minimal production on the stat sheet.
It’s hard to draw any comparison to Dolezaj from his countrymen because his game is one that stretches the floor, meanwhile, none of these players shoot frequently from outside. Dolezaj’s projection to the college game will be much like his recruitment: a mystery. However, if history repeats itself, don’t expect his career to stretch much further than Syracuse. Only one player from Slovakia has ever reached the NBA, so I’m sure Dolezaj had plenty of Richard Petruska posters in his room growing up.