UK’s Ivisic impresses — on tape

Published 11:34 am Thursday, October 19, 2023

By Larry Vaught

Contributing columnist

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook editor/publisher Chris Dortch has not seen 7-2 Croatian Zvonimir Ivisic play in person but he has watched numerous tapes of the newest member of the UK basketball.

“He is unbelievable and a huge difference maker based on seeing him against international competition,” Dortch said. “I cannot truly relate that competition to SEC basketball but it is easy to see he is a big-time rim protector. He is a great rim runner and lob catcher. He can also shoot the 3.”

Dortch admitted that Ivisic does remind him of former Gonzaga star Chet Holmgren, the second overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

“But he is maybe even stronger and more nimble than Holmgren,” Dortch said. “If Kentucky gets him eligible and it looks like he is, it will add to a team that at one time people were panicking over because of the lack of players Cal at one point this summer.

“If Ivisic is as good as what I saw on tape and I like to think I know talent, I can’t see him  being anything but a huge help.”

Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua agrees with Dortch.

“Zvonimir is a unique player that can play a couple positions. He is very skilled and mobile and has a great motor with incredible length which allows him to be a great rim protector,” Antigua said

Blue Ribbon has Kentucky 11th in its preseason poll. Six SEC teams are in the top 25 with UK ranked below Tennessee and Arkansas. Texas A&M, Alabama and

“We know it is going to be a tough league,” Dortch said. “I think this will be Rick Barnes’ best team at Tennessee. They have a 6-5 freshman, Freddie Dilione, who is throwing passes like Pete Maravich did. (Zakai) Ziegler who tore his ACL late last season is already back on the court doing some things. They have (Santiago) Vescovi and (Josiah)-Jordan James back. They added two shooters they desperately needed.

“Arkansas never ceases to amaze me with what they do with transfers. I think they are going to be loaded and I look at them as a team that could compete for the (national) championship.

“It’s just a loaded league and Kentucky is going to be able to play with anybody. Do they have a guy like (Anthony) Davis who can dominate? I don’t know. Maybe Ivisic will be that guy.”