Losing the program's all-time leading scorer in Luka Garza to professional basketball and backup big man Jack Nunge to transfer leaves Iowa Basketball with holes to fill in its front-court. Filip Rebraca might help fill one of them.
The 6-foot-9, 222-pound Serbian is in the transfer portal after three seasons at North Dakota. He's coming off a season that saw him average 17.2 points and 7.5 rebounds in earning second-team all-Summit League honors.
Rebraca first heard from Hawkeye assistant coach Billy Taylor four days ago. He then talked with head coach Fran McCaffery. Tuesday, he met virtually with the staff.
The meeting helped he and the coaches get to know each other better. He watched video of the campus and facilities.
"Those were not the primary reasons for the call," Rebraca told HN. "The primary reason for it was to show me how they play basketball. I was very impressed by it and intrigued with how I might fit in. It seems like very fun basketball."
McCaffery told Rebraca he likes his ability to play in the post, face up and guard multiple positions. It's the type of versatility the coach covets.
Rebraca shot 37.5 percent in knocking down 15 three-pointers this season. He's shot 54.3 percent from the floor in starting 73 of 86 games during his three college seasons. His 122 free throws attempts were the fifth most in the Summit League for 2020-21.
"I believe my versatility is my biggest asset. I can do a little bit of everything. I can post, face up, and shoot. I need to develop all these skills even more," Rebraca said.
Oral Roberts, which reached the Sweet 16, won two of three games against North Dakota, including an 11-point victory in the Summit League Tournament. In those contests, Rebraca averaged 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds.
Rebraca also has conducted virtual visits with Virginia Tech and Tulsa, and scheduled one with Minnesota for Thursday. South Carolina and San Diego State have contacted him.
"I don't want to waste people's time. I understand this is a business and people want to fill up the rosters as soon as they can with players. So I understand time is of the essence. But I do not want to rush my decision because I want to make an educated decision," he said.
The Hawkeyes have made a good impression so far.
"It was a positive visit. They all seem like real good people, which really matters. You want to go to a program where you're welcomed. You want to go to a program where they really care about you on and off the court," he said.
"They just seemed like really good, genuine people. It's just a process of building this relationship."
Iowa told Rebraca that it would be in touch with him in the next few days. It and the other schools showing interest have not talked about their scholarship situation, he said.
"I don't know how that works with transfers. No one has officially told me anything. I get the sense that we're all looking to have more talks, see where this goes and see if it advances to that stage," he said.
Rebraca benefits from two strong advisors in the process, both of whom joined him on the call with Iowa. His father, Željko Rebrača, played in the NBA and Europe. His godfather, George Grkinich, played at Fresno State.
"My dad liked how (the Hawkeyes) used the freedom of play. He told me that this is great basketball that they're playing. I think my godfather agreed with him. These are two guys that know their basketball, and I trust their opinions," Rebraca said.
Foreign players are required to attend at least one in-person class while at a US college. The North Dakota Business graduate program is all on-line, which sparked his decision to look for a new school. He's searching for the right academic fit after earning a Bachelor's degree in Economics and also one for basketball.
"I know no one can guarantee me winning, but I would like to go to a school with a culture of winning. I would like to have the experience of going to the (NCAA) Tournament. I'd also like to find a place that can develop my skills," Rebraca said.