If the Junior Men World Championships are any indication, the University of Utah basketball team has an outstanding player joining the program this fall.
Andrew Bogut, a 6-foot-9 forward who was signed to a letter of intent last year, has led the Emus Australian Under 19 men's basketball team into the final of the World Championships for Junior Men in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Bogut (pronounced Bo-GOOT) scored 39 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in leading his team past Croatia 97-84 Saturday and into the final, where it will meet Lithuania today.
The Australian victory came on the heels of a major upset of tournament favorite USA 106-85 on Wednesday, when Bogut had 22 points and 18 rebounds.
According to a news report from Basketball Australia of the game, "Bogut played an extraordinary game, dominating from all angles of the court." During one 23-minute stretch he had 20 rebounds.
"Our team was a bit scattered before the tournament, and our preparation wasn't great," Bogut was quoted as saying. "I want to give all the coaches the credit for bringing us all together and preparing us for such a difficult task. I put in a good performance tonight, but I also owe it to my teammates. I believe I can still improve, especially playing from the perimeter, if I want to become a really good player and do something with my career."
Croatian coach Josko Pulja congratulated Australia on its great performance but had special praise for Bogut.
"We tried to play them five-on-five, but they were just amazing," he said. "We managed to somehow guard the rest of the Australian players, but Bogut played an extraordinary game tonight. I believe that he's going to be a great player."
Bogut signed with Utah in the spring of 2002 and was supposed to join the team last December. However, because of a problem with his high school transcripts, he wasn't able to join the team until this fall.
He'll join returnees Tim Frost, Nick Jacobson, Tim Drisdom, Richard Chaney, Bryant Markson and Chris Jackson, along with newcomers Justin Hawkins, Ryan Werch, Stefan Zimmerman, Josh Olsen and Jonas Langvad.