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Sports >  NCAA

Washington State signs elite international prospect Andrej Jakimovski

UPDATED: Sun., June 21, 2020

Washington State head coach Kyle Smith, right, greets guard Jervae Robinson during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against California in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.  (Associated Press)
Washington State head coach Kyle Smith, right, greets guard Jervae Robinson during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against California in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (Associated Press)

More than a year ago, Andrej Jakimovski was the top scorer and third-leading rebounder while representing his country, North Macedonia, at the 2019 FIBA U-18 European Championship B in Oradea, Romania.

Now one of the top prospects in international basketball will see what he can do in the Pac-12 Conference.

Kyle Smith and Washington State likely put a bow on one of the most impressive recruiting classes in program history Sunday, signing the 19-year-old Jakimovski to a letter of intent.

Jakimovski, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, is “considered one of the top European recruits committing to the college route.” The small forward averaged 18.4 points per game while competing at the European Championships to go with 9.4 rebounds.

“Andrej is someone we have been recruiting for over a year,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said in a news release. “He has been weighing his options of playing professionally in Europe versus the Pac-12. The allure of competing in the Conference of Champions and getting a college degree were too appealing for him. He is a highly skillful playmaker that can play four positions on the offensive end of the floor.”

Jakimovski had significant interest at the Power Five level and was also offered by Utah, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Minnesota, Utah State and Davidson.

“He has been a dominant player in his age group and has international experience starting for the North Macedonia national team,” Smith said. “He is a good student with high character who fits our program well.”

He led North Macedonia to a fourth-place finish at the event and a 5-0 record in the group phase, beating Ireland, Ukraine, Georgia, Slovakia and Denmark.

According to RealGM, Jakimovski is 6-foot-7 and 181 pounds, but The Spokesman-Review learned the European prospect has grown at least one inch and added more than 20 pounds and currently stands at 6-8, 205 pounds.

Jakwimovski played in the Italian second division on an amateur contract this season and was the Italian NextGen U-19’s most productive player, averaging 28 points, 14 rebounds, 4.3 assists and three steals per game for Basket Torino.

“I had offers from other Italian and European teams, but I truly believe that the best option is for me to join the Cougs,” Jakimovski told Givony.

“I also had offers from other universities, but I knew from the beginning that WSU was the right choice for me. I am determined to work harder than ever and help my new team reach new heights.”

Jakimovski has played for North Macedonia at the FIBA U16 and U18 levels and made his debut for the senior national team in February, playing limited minutes against Russia and Estonia during the FIBA European Championship qualification games.

It didn’t appear the Cougars had any available scholarships after receiving a commitment earlier in the week from top-15 California prospect Carlos Rosario, but the NCAA is apparently considering a provision that would allow college basketball teams an additional scholarship, now that the NBA draft pushed back its early entrant withdrawal deadline to early October. That would allow Jakimovski and Rosario to sign with the Cougars, even if standout sophomore wing CJ Elleby elects to return for his junior season.

Jakimovski becomes the third international player to commit to WSU’s recruiting class, which also includes Rosario (Dominican Republic), Jefferson Koulibaly (Canada) and Efe Abogidi (Nigeria). New York’s T.J. Bamba and California’s Dishon Jackson round out the class.

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