Bogdan Bliznyuk wore a cap and gown Saturday when handed his diploma at Eastern Washington’s commencement ceremony.
He hopes to put his business management degree to use, but not anytime soon.
Bliznyuk, the Big Sky Conference’s all-time leading scorer, will likely know his first professional destination following today’s NBA Draft. The 6-foot-6 guard is projected to go either undrafted or picked up late in the second round.
After workouts with the Detroit Pistons and the Sacramento Kings, Bliznyuk said he’s is confident he’ll get on with an NBA Summer League team. From there, Bliznyuk said, he’ll know if he’s better suited for the NBA’s developmental league or playing overseas.
“Whatever the situation, you have to look at it as a career now,” Bogdan said. “I am looking forward to summer league and competing. I’m taking it one step at time.”
Bliznyuk would be the fourth EWU product to play in the NBA Summer League, following former teammates Jake Wiley (Brooklyn Nets, 2017) and Tyler Harvey (Orlando Magic, 2015), and Rodney Stuckey (Detroit Pistons, 2007).
The Todd Beamer High graduate said he’ll be visiting family in Federal Way, Washington, during the draft. He was recently training in Southern California and has sought advice from Wiley and Harvey.
Wiley, the 2017 Big Sky Conference Player of the Year, went undrafted last summer but carved out a small role with the Brooklyn Nets before he was released in January. Harvey was selected by Orlando as the 51st overall pick in 2015 and now plays in France.
Bliznyuk’s agent, Daniel Moldovan, also represents former Washington State star and current Boston Celtics post Aron Baynes and a few overseas pros.
In a May workout with the Pistons, Bliznyuk played with Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure), Andrew Rowsey (Marquette), Kelan Martin (Butler) and center Malik Pope (San Diego State).
According to draft websites, Bliznyuk’s shooting and playmaking could translate well to the next level, but he lacks an elite first step.
“I think the workouts went well. I showed I can score the ball,” Bliznyuk said. “But I need to improve my lateral movement and shoot better off the bounce.”
At the Portsmouth (Virginia) Invitational in April – a tournament showcasing college seniors to pro scouts – Bliznyuk sank 18 of 36 shots from the field and scored 46 points to rank 11th among 64 players. He also averaged two steals and 3.3 assists.
EWU head coach Shantay Legans likes his former sharpshooter’s chances at the next level.
“A team is going to be really, really lucky to have him in the summer, and I think someone is going to take shot at him,” Legans said. “Because he is an NBA player and he is an NBA talent. I’d be shocked if he’s not in a jersey next year playing for somebody.”
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