116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Rebraca is the only player Hawkeyes Coach Fran McCaffery has lured from the NCAA transfer portal this spring. But a big get, he may very well prove to be.
He comes to Iowa by way of the world, given his family’s travels with his father, former NBA and European professional basketball player Zeljko Rebraca. He was a 7-foot center who played in 215 NBA games.
Filip is a 6-9, 222-pounder who is more of a forward.
“I still talk to him like really almost every day about practices and what I need to do,” Filip said. “He’s always been telling me I need to be in the gym 24/7.
“If I’ve been in the gym three hours, he says ’Oh, back in my day I was in the gym four or five hours.’ If I went in the gym for four hours, he was in the gym for eight hours.,
“He’s always just telling me that hard work is the number one thing.”
Filip’s hometown is Sombor, Serbia, also home of this season’s NBA Most Valuable Player, the Denver Nuggets’ Jokic. Rebraca is 22, Jokic 26.
“We actually know each other,” Rebraca said Tuesday. “When I go back to Serbia and when he’s there during the summer, we sometimes see each other. I’m not saying we’re best friends, but we always greet each other, we always talk about how we’re doing and whatnot.
“When we were younger we used to practice (together) during the summer. He’s a special player, a once-in-a-generation type player.”
You can’t be a basketball fan and not love Jokic’s game. He doesn’t have the most quickness or bounce, but wow, can he play. His shooting, rebounding, and perhaps especially his passing are things to behold. His regular-season averages were 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists.
Now, that’s not Rebraca, let alone any other big player in the sport. Nor is Rebraca a Luka Garza, who is 6-11 and weighed 255 pounds or so at Iowa, though Rebraca will take the departed National Player of the Year’s spot in Iowa’s offense to an extent.
However, Rebraca isn’t coming to Iowa as a project. He averaged 16.8 points and 7.6 rebounds for North Dakota, and started 74 games in three years there. He scored 23 points in 76-67 loss at Minnesota last Dec. 4.
“I know that Iowa likes to play fast and that’s not really something we did at North Dakota,” said Rebraca. “That’s a very free-flowing offense when it’s engaged. Everyone has a role to play, everyone can make decisions and can make plays.
“I wanted to go to a place where this is the case because I think this is the best and most-fun brand of basketball.
“What I pride my game on (is) doing a little bit of everything. I can shoot a little, I can drive a little, I can be in the post, I can run. I can mid-range, face-up. That was (McCaffery’s) pitch to me, that all aspects of my game would be used, and I just really liked to hear that because that’s kind of what I pride myself on.”
Rebraca was born in Italy while his father was playing there. They moved to Greece, then to the U.S. once Rebraca joined the Detroit Pistons. Then it was on to Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Italy again before Zeljko retired and the family settled in Zeljko’s native Serbia.
“After that I decided to come back to the United States to finish up high school and I finished up high school in Colorado and went to prep school in Massachusetts,” Rebraca said. “North Dakota was my previous university, and now I’m here.”
He hopes to do more bouncing in basketball, obviously, but not necessarily a year from now. He has two years of college eligibility left, and said “The plan is to be here two years.
“If I have an exceptional season and I have an opportunity to go play pro and earn a lot of money, I guess it’s always something you have to take into consideration. But I’m strongly leaning towards staying here two years.”
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