IOWA CITY, Iowa - Filip Rebraca ran down the list of places where he lived like he was spinning a globe.
The 6-foot-9 forward was born in Italy, lived in Greece, moved to the United States when his father entered the NBA and lived in Detroit and Los Angeles. He moved to Italy, lived in Serbia, came back to the U.S. and finished high school in Colorado before attending prep school in Massachusetts one year. He played three seasons at North Dakota, and now he’s at Iowa for what he’s planning on being a two-year stay.
“It’s been a long journey,” Rebraca said during Tuesday’s media availability.
His new home is going to be the spot in the lineup that Luka Garza occupied for four seasons on his way to become Iowa’s all-time scorer and the consensus national player of the year last season.
Where he plays isn’t important to Rebraca. It’s how Iowa plays that made him think this would be a good fit.
“I know that Iowa likes to play fast, and that’s not really something we did at North Dakota,” said Rebraca, who averaged 16.8 points and 7.6 rebounds last season. “(Iowa has) a free-flowing offense — everyone is engaged, everyone has a role to play, everyone can make decisions and make plays. You know, I wanted to go to a place where this was the case, because I think this is the best and most fun brand of basketball.”
Rebraca scored in double figures in his last 34 games at North Dakota, a program record. He also set a program record with 20 career double-doubles.
That kind of production comes from a versatility that Iowa coach Fran McCaffery appreciates.
“I think he fits in perfectly,” McCaffery said last week. “He’s a really skilled 6-9 guy who can rebound, can handle it, can shoot it, can drive it, and he can pass. Gives us a lot of versatility. There’s any number of combinations. I kind of want him to be a guy who is not a straight ‘5’. He’ll play the ‘5’, he’ll play the ‘5’ a lot, but he’ll be out on the perimeter. You saw Luka, he was the best low-post player in the country, but he spent a lot of time on the perimeter shooting the ball. (Rebraca is) a perfect fit for our transition and our motion game.”
“He just told me that my versatility will be used,” Rebraca said of McCaffery’s sales pitch. “This is what I pride my game on — doing a little bit of everything. I can shoot a little, I can drive a little, I can be in the post, I can run, I can mid-range (shoot), face up. That was his pitch to me, that all aspects of my game will be used. I just really liked to hear that, because that’s what I pride myself on.”
Rebraca’s father, Zeljko, had a successful international career, and played in the NBA from 2001-2007 with the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers.
“I learned a lot,” Rebraca said. “I still talk to him, almost literally every day, about practices and what we do. He’s always telling me I need to be in the gym 24-7. If I’m in the gym for three hours, he’ll say, ‘Back in my day, I was in the gym for 4-5 hours.’ If I’ve been in the gym for four hours, he’s been in for eight hours. He’s always telling me hard work is the number one thing.
“He played a classic ‘5’. But we both have a similar mid-range game and post game. I’m a little more forward-oriented than he was.”
Rebraca is going for his masters degree in finance, something he couldn’t have gotten at North Dakota. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
“The plan is to be here two years,” he said. “I don’t want to leave things unfinished. If I have an exceptional season, and I have an opportunity to play pro and earn a lot of money, it’s always something you have to take into consideration.”
It’s the latest home for him.