After playing sparingly in his freshman season at Villanova shooting guard Mislav Brzoja represented his native Croatia in the FIBA Under-19 World Championships, and in the aftermath of his performance in Prague there was the thought in some circles that Brzoja could challenge for more playing time as a sophomore.
That day will not come however, as it was announced by Villanova on Thursday that Brzoja has elected to continue his college career at another school. And according to Kyle Neddenriep of the Indianapolis Star, Brzoja will transfer to Evansville.
Brzoja played a total of 41 minutes last season (17 games), playing a season-high eight minutes in Villanova’s 75-57 loss to Columbia on November 20. Brzoja managed to score two points in his first appearance of the season (the opener against the University of the District of Columbia), but did not score in any of his remaining 16 appearances.
Brzoja made up for “lost time” during the summer however, as he averaged 12.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game for Croatia during the Under-19 World Championships. Brzoja reached double figures in six of Croatia’s nine games, scoring 22 points (6-for-9 3PT) and grabbing nine rebounds in an 86-76 loss to Spain.
With his play over the summer it isn’t all that surprising that Brzoja would want to have a larger role.
“Mislav is a great teammate and outstanding student who was a big part of our team’s success last year,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said in the release announcing the move. “He is interested in pursuing a more prominent role with another program and we support his decision. We want what’s best for Mislav.”
Brzoja’s decision to transfer means that three guards have left the Villanova program in the last year, with Achraf Yacoubou (Saint Louis) and Ty Johnson (South Carolina) being the others. But the Wildcats won’t lack for depth on the perimeter, as contributors Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard, James Bell and Tony Chennault all return with Rice transfer Dylan Ennis and freshman Josh Hart joining the ranks.
As for Evansville, the addition of Brzoja would give head coach Marty Simmons another option to call upon on the wing when he becomes eligible in 2014. Rising sophomore Adam Wing is the lone player with Division I experience, as he averaged 2.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game as a freshman.
Evansville adds four freshmen on the wing (five overall) this season, including Tyler Ptacek (Padua Franciscan High’s all-time leading scorer) and Blake Simmons.