Utah Utes add 7-foot basketball player from Austria

Published: Friday, April 25 2014 2:20 p.m. MDT

Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak yells instructions to his players during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Arizona State Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, in Tempe, Ariz.

Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah basketball team picked up a big addition. On Friday, head coach Larry Krystkowiak announced that Jakob Poeltl, a 7-footer from Austria, has joined the program — choosing the Utes after also making visits to Arizona and California.

“We are really excited to have Jakob join our program, as he will give us versatility at the power forward and center positions,” Krystkowiak said in a released statement.

The 18-year-old Poeltl was captain of the U-18 Austrian national team at the 2013 European Championships and was named to the tournament’s second team by Eurobasket. He averaged 12.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks last season for the Arkadia Traiskirchen Lions of the Bundesliga (top domestic league) — making nearly 75 percent of his shots from the field.

“He is committed to coming here and maximizing his basketball potential. Over the past year he has been playing against men so he is a little more seasoned as far as level of competition,” Krystkowiak said. “ Adding Jakob, a coveted big man, to our mix of international players, is something we feel is a blueprint to success in the Pac-12.”

Poeltl played on a national championship team in U-16 play and was a two-time MVP for the Vienna DC Timberwolves in the “B” division of the Bundesliga.

“Jakob has made great sacrifices to get to this point,” said Krystkowiak, who praised Poeltl’s footwork and fundamentals. “He has been burning the candle at both ends in order to get here and experience the college atmosphere. We can’t wait to have him here in this environment because he has a terrific future ahead of him. It’s a great day for our program.”

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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