For the second time in a week, Creighton tapped into the international pool of hoops prospects to fill a roster opening for next season.
Rati Andronikashvili, a playmaking 6-foot-5 combo guard from the country of Georgia, committed to CU on Thursday. He joined 6-9 Lithuanian wing Modestas Kancleris as the most recent additions to the Bluejays’ 2020 class.
Both Andronikashvili and Kancleris are eligible to play right away for Creighton, which could return six of its top eight scorers from last year’s Big East championship squad. In November, the Jays signed top-100 recruit Ryan Kalkbrenner, a 6-11 center from St. Louis. And Creighton is also expected to add center Jacob Epperson (injured last year) and guard Antwann Jones (sat out after transferring) into the rotation for next season.
Andronikashvili appears to possess the skills to contribute next year, as well.
The 19-year-old has played for Georgia’s national team in every age group. He made his debut with the senior national team two years ago, and joined that top group again for a stretch in February. He averaged 17.4 points per game at the under-18 FIBA European championships last year.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who specializes in analyzing international draft prospects, named Andronikashvili as one of the top European players heading to an American college.
“He’s a highly creative, instinctual player with excellent ball-handling ability who plays at different speeds naturally and is adept at operating out of pick and roll,” Givony wrote Thursday.
ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz tweeted Thursday that Andronikashvili “has a ton of game off the dribble and plays with a lot of flair.” He’ll be rated as a four-star prospect when 247Sports adds him to its 2020 class database, analyst Josh Gershon said.
Andronikashvili will join a Creighton backcourt comprised of junior Marcus Zegarowski, senior Mitch Ballock and sophomore Shereef Mitchell. Seniors Denzel Mahoney and Damien Jefferson have declared for the NBA draft, but they still have the option to return to school.
CU also added Duke transfer guard Alex O'Connell this offseason, but he’ll sit out 2020-21 before playing his final year of college in 2021-22.
The Jays still have one open roster spot for next year, assuming there are no more departures.
They’ve already lost leading scorer Ty-Shon Alexander (NBA), veteran guard Davion Mintz (transfer) and developing youngster Jalen Windham (transfer). They were in the mix for 2020 shooting guard Kerwin Walton, a four-star prospect out of Minnesota, who picked North Carolina last week.
But three days later, CU signed Kancleris, a versatile wing attended the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders camp and the NBPA Top 100 camp last year. Kancleris had initially committed to Grand Canyon.
And now Andronikashvili is headed to Omaha. He told ESPN that Creighton assistant Alan Huss traveled to see several of his games and that coach Greg McDermott really did his homework.
“I knew Creighton way before they called me,” Andronikashvili said in an interview with ESPN. “I’ve always liked how they play. Their basketball program is amazing. They know me better than anyone, and they really understand me as a player.”
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