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Zvonimir Ivišić transfers to Arkansas: Ex-Kentucky big man follows John Calipari in splash acquisition

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Former Kentucky center Zvonimir Ivišić announced Monday that he is transferring to Arkansas to reunite with coach John Calipari. Ivišić is Arkansas’ first commitment since Calipari was introduced as the coach of the Razorbacks last week following 15 seasons at UK.

Landing the Croatian big man makes for a splashy beginning to what will be an intense couple of months of roster building for Calipari, who quipped on Wednesday that “there is no team” at Arkansas. With the Razorbacks’ entire 2023-24 roster either out of eligibility, in the transfer portal or turning pro following coach Eric Musselman’s departure for USC, Calipari has a lot of work to do.

Ivišić showed tantalizing flashes of potential for the Wildcats after missing the first 16 games of the season while awaiting NCAA clearance. The 7-foot-2 stretch big man finished with 13 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists while knocking down 3 of 4 attempts from 3-point range in just 16 minutes during his first game against Georgia on Jan. 20.

That sterling debut set an impossibly high standard for Ivišić, who struggled to carve out a steady role over the following weeks. Still, with a rare combination of size, skill and shooting ability, Ivišić obviously has the tools to be a high-level starter in college basketball.

Given that Ivišić blocked 1.3 shots per game in just 11.7 minutes per game, it’s easy to envision him blossoming into one of the top shot blockers in the SEC or even the country. Key to his continued development will be physical maturation. With a full offseason to spend in Arkansas’ strength and conditioning program, Ivišić should develop the strength required to bruise on the block in a rugged conference.

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