Aspen big man to play DII hoops

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan Aspens Walker Abrahamovich blocks the shot of Coal Ridges Eric Schmitz during a consolation bracket game at the 3A Great Eight in March in Fort Collins.

ASPEN Walker Abrahamovich helped the Aspen basketball team log 24 wins and a second consecutive trip to 3As Great Eight this past winter.Now, hes taking his game to St. Louis. The 6-foot-8 Abrahamovich, who averaged 11 points for the Skiers during his senior season after transferring from Roaring Fork, recently signed a letter of intent to play at Division II Maryville University. Hell receive nearly $20,000 in academic and athletic scholarships annually.We havent had a lot of kids come through this small ski town and get a scholarship in basketball, let alone in any other sport, Aspen head coach Steve Ketchum said Friday. Were thrilled for him. Hell be able to blossom there.Abrahamovich is the third player in recent history to receive some form of athletic scholarship, Ketchum said. Cory Parker, 2008s 3A Mr. Basketball, red-shirted at DI Drake University this past winter and Robert Tomaszek, a former Junior College All-American at Eastern Wyoming, played for Bob Knight at Texas Tech. He now plays professionally overseas. Ive been thinking about this since I was pretty young maybe seventh or eighth grade, when I was just starting to peak, Abrahamovich said. Its definitely a good feeling and a bit of a surprise.This time last year, Abrahamovich was drawing little interest from colleges, he said. Soon after, he made the decision to transfer upvalley to take advantage of more academic opportunities.His fortunes changed last fall after his father came across a recruiting site while researching online. Abrahamovich set up a profile and even included a three-minute highlight reel.It didnt take long for him to stand out.I remember that first time when I got a call from a community college My parents were shocked and I was shocked, Abrahamovich said. It was exciting.Maryville was one of a host of schools, among them Denver University, Norwich University in Vermont and University of Puget Sound in Washington, who came calling.The interest was warranted, Ketchum said.They see Walker as a guy with a lot of potential at [6-foot-8], a guy with skills who can shoot the ball, the coach added. Hes got a lot to work with, and you dont often see that. Many big men dont have that high a skill level. Theyre lucky if they can catch the ball and make a layup.Abrahamovich impressed in his only season in black and red. In addition to stretching defenses with his smooth shooting stroke from long distance, he took on the challenge of being more assertive in the paint. It resulted in multiple double doubles, including a 14-rebound, 13-point effort in his return to Carbondale in January. He knew it would be a tough transition. But something we desperately needed he gave us, Ketchum said. That ability to shoot outside was just the icing on the cake. It was a coachs dream.Maryville coaches continued to maintain contact with Abrahamovich during the Skiers run to conference, district and regional titles. After Aspens trip to Fort Collins in March, where it went 1-2 in three gams, Abrahamovich and his parents traveled to the St. Louis campus during Spring Break.They made me feel right at home, Abrahamovich remembered. I didnt really know where I wanted to go or what was going to be the best fit for me, but when I got there it felt great.He made his choice official in front of nearly 40 people at Aspens recent team banquet. Dream had finally become reality.Now, hes ready to take the next step even if his parents arent.I dont think theyre ready for me to go yet. Theyre probably going to try and keep me here the whole summer, Abrahamovich joked. I cant wait to get out there. Its going to be a totally different environment than here. I just want to help them keep building a strong program. [Coaches] said I can expect a lot of playing time.Ketchum said Abrahamovich should have no problem fitting in and shining.We were very fortunate and very lucky and so was Walker that this was a really good fit. I dont think we wouldve been the same team without him, Ketchum added. He has great potential and is such a late bloomer. Put him in a high-level college with great coaches, give him great competition and two years from now well hardly even recognize