The University of Portland men’s basketball faithful are extremely excited about a player that played sparingly last season for West Virginia. “Why?”, the common college basketball fan might ask. Despite his lack of production and minutes played in Morgantown last season, this new Pilot has an exciting skill set and has produced on the international level. Before I get too far ahead of myself, here is a closer look at Portland forward-center Volodymyr Gerun.
Canarias Basketball Academy
The 6-10 big man played at the CanariasBasketballAcademy, which is located in the Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa. Current Pilots center Thomas van der Mars hails from the CBA as well.
Gerun’s true claim to basketball fame comes from his play on the international circuit – specifically his performance at the 2011 Under-18 European Championships. Gerun, a native of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, led the Ukrainian team in points (18.2 PPG), rebounds (11.1 PPG), and blocks (2.7 BPG). For his performance, Gerun was named to the Basketball Without Borders All-Star Team and the Under-18 FIBA All-Star team. A year prior, the Ukrainian post played in the Under-16 European championships, where he was named the tournament’s MVP after averaging 17.3 point and 9.1 rebounds.
Gerun played his first season of college basketball at West Virginia, but that did not turn out the way he anticipated. At WVU he only saw 33 minutes, while averaging 1.3 points and 0.7 rebounds. Gerun also had to sit out the first six games of the season when the NCAA discovered that he had played three games for a Ukrainian professional team the year before. Gerun decided to transfer after the season, and eventually landed at the University of Portland. It was determined that Gerun would come in as a junior (since he took sophomore classes at WVU) and he would be eligible immediately.
Impact at Portland
The foreign big man will add even more depth to a loaded UP frontcourt, which also includes senior forward Ryan Nicholas and junior centers Riley Barker and Thomas van der Mars. Gerun did not produce a ton at the high Division I level, but his skill set is undeniable. He moves well without the ball and can finish through contact, which every big man is expected to do. Although Gerun will likely come off of the bench this season behind All-Conference Honorable Mention forward Nicholas, he will contribute a ton and could end up averaging over 20 minutes per game for Eric Reveno’s squad.