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Bogdan Bliznyuk of Eastern Washington is first-team all-Big Sky preseason pick

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 12, 2017, 4:10 p.m.

Eastern Washington guard Bogdan Bliznyuk, center, slices between Joshua Thomas, left, Brendan Howard during an Oct. 5 practice at Reese Court in Cheney. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington guard Bogdan Bliznyuk, center, slices between Joshua Thomas, left, Brendan Howard during an Oct. 5 practice at Reese Court in Cheney. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Eastern Washington University senior forward Bogdan Bliznyuk is one of six players on the All-Big Sky Conference preseason basketball team, the league announced Thursday.

The 6-foot-6 Bliznyuk was joined on the first team by Geno Crandall (North Dakota), Ahmaad Rorie (Montana), Jordan Davis (Northern Colorado), Victor Sanders (Idaho) and Tyler Hall (Montana State), who was selected as the preseason player of the year.

A two-time co-captain , Bliznyuk was a second-team All-Big Sky and All-District 6 performer last year, and was the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2014-15.

The native of Ukraine graduated from Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way, Wash., in 2014.

Bliznyuk has scored 1,428 points in 103 career games, and needs just 375 points to break EWU’s all-time mark of 1,803 points set by Venky Jois from 2013-16. He is the only player in school history with a triple-double.

“He is an experienced, versatile player who will continue to do a little bit of everything for us,” said first-year head coach Shantay Legans said. “Additionally, he will be a great mentor to the young and talented group of players we have.”

“Bogdan is ready to have his best year as an Eagle yet,” Legans said.

As a junior, Bliznyuk averaged 26.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his last eight games of the season. He ranked in the top 11 in four different statistical categories in the league, ranking fifth in points (20.6 per game), seventh in rebounds (6.5), sixth in assists (4.0) and 11th in free throw percentage (.821).

The league will release the preseason media and coaches’ polls on Friday

The Eagles began practices on Oct. 2 and officially open the season at home on Nov. 10 against Walla Walla in the debut of Legans’ head coaching career.