The Easterner

No rest for the Bogs: Bliznyuk begins quest for pro career

Senior+forward+Bogdan+Bliznyuk+drives+to+the+lane+during+the+Reese%27s+College+All-Star+Game+on+March+30.+Bliznyuk%2C+who+strives+to+play+in+the+NBA%2C+was+one+of+20+NCAA+Division+I+seniors+selected+to+play+in+the+Final+Four+event+in+San+Antonio.+%7C+Photo+courtesy+of+NACB
Senior forward Bogdan Bliznyuk drives to the lane during the Reese's College All-Star Game on March 30. Bliznyuk, who strives to play in the NBA, was one of 20 NCAA Division I seniors selected to play in the Final Four event in San Antonio. | Photo courtesy of NACB

Senior forward Bogdan Bliznyuk drives to the lane during the Reese's College All-Star Game on March 30. Bliznyuk, who strives to play in the NBA, was one of 20 NCAA Division I seniors selected to play in the Final Four event in San Antonio. | Photo courtesy of NACB

Senior forward Bogdan Bliznyuk drives to the lane during the Reese's College All-Star Game on March 30. Bliznyuk, who strives to play in the NBA, was one of 20 NCAA Division I seniors selected to play in the Final Four event in San Antonio. | Photo courtesy of NACB

By Michael Brock, Sports Editor

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EWU senior forward Bogdan Bliznyuk continues to make program history, even after taking off the Eagle red and white uniform for the final time.

On March 30, Bliznyuk became the first EWU men’s basketball player to participate in the Reese’s College All-Star Game. The contest, which featured the premier senior student-athletes from NCAA Division I, was played at the Alamodome in San Antonio as part of Final Four Friday.

“Bogdan truly deserves this honor,” EWU head coach Shantay Legans said prior to the matchup. “Playing in this game shows he is being recognized and noticed all over the country.”

Bliznyuk was selected by the National Association of Basketball Coaches to represent the West All-Stars. He started the game for the West alongside Gabe Levin (Long Beach State), Rokas Gustys (Hofstra), Trae Bell-Haynes (Vermont) and Tyler Nelson (Fairfield).

Despite scoring just two points in the first half, Bliznyuk finished the game with 11 points (on 5-of-7 shooting), three rebounds and two steals in 21 minutes. Bliznyuk’s West team took down the East All-Stars 98–94.

“It was a really well put-together event,” Bliznyuk said in a phone interview with The Easterner. “I enjoyed being in San Antonio. It was really festive because of the Final Four. There were a lot of people and really good food out there. It was just a great experience as a whole and I’m glad I was able to partake in it.”

The All-Stars were in the Alamo City for three to four days, participating in two combined practices in addition to playing in the game. They also got to meet the Wounded Warriors, which Bliznyuk described as an “awesome” experience.

“Everyone there was so glad to see us,” said Bliznyuk. “It gives you joy when you see people’s faces and how excited they are to see you and how it makes their days.”

Bliznyuk, who concluded his career at EWU with 16 school records, was selected to the Associated Press All-America team as an honorable mention on March 27. He also repeated as a NABC All-District 6 choice, being selected to the first team after making the second team last season.

To top it off, Bliznyuk was named to the Lou Henson All-America team, which features the top mid-major players, on March 29.

Next up for the 6-foot-6 forward is the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament on April 11-14 in Virginia. Former Eagle Jacob Wiley played in the 64-player, pre-NBA Draft tournament last year, earning an All-Tournament selection. Wiley eventually signed a two-way contract to play professionally for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets after averaging 17.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in three games at the “PIT.”

“My goal is to play in the NBA,” said Bliznyuk, who recently hired an agent to aid in the draft process. “I’m going to do whatever I can to put myself in the position where I can do that […] If that doesn’t happen, then I’m going to try and play overseas and get the best job that I can.”

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No rest for the Bogs: Bliznyuk begins quest for pro career