Furtah player finds a college
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
May 25, 2014 04:00 AM | 1409 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Furtah Prep basketball coach Eugene Fries, left, and headmaster Frederick Furtah joined Nils Dejworek as he signed to play at Valdosta State.
<Br>Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter
Furtah Prep basketball coach Eugene Fries, left, and headmaster Frederick Furtah joined Nils Dejworek as he signed to play at Valdosta State.
Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter
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WOODSTOCK — Furtah Prep basketball standout Nils Dejworek achieved one of his short-term goals, and took a big step toward his long-term goal of playing professional basketball, when he signed with Valdosta State earlier this week.

Dejworek, a German exchange student who played just one season at Furtah, hoped to get the attention of a college in order to extend his career, and it worked.

Dejworek chose Division II Valdosta over a handful of Division I programs, such as UNC Greensboro, because the Blazers will allow him to spend the summer with his family in Germany. The Division I programs that sought Dejworek wanted him to arrive on campus in early June for workouts.

Valdosta State is giving him nearly three months off before he must report.

“I have a lot more options to go to Germany than I would going D-I,” Dejworek said. “They wanted me back in one-and-a-half weeks, and I want to go to Germany longer — three months, the whole summer. That was one of the things I wanted.”

Not only will Dejworek get the chance to see family, but he didn’t have to sacrifice that much to make it happen.

“I still get a full ride,” he said. “I don’t have to pay to go to school. It’s education first for me, and this is a free education. I’m definitely excited about that.”

While helping lead Furtah to a state title in the Georgia Independent School Association’s Class AA state title certainly helped Dejworek garner recognition, Furtah coach Eugene Fries believes Dejworek has the skills to stand out on any court.

“Obviously, being 6-foot-9 gets you a lot of attention, but I’m sure there are a lot of guys out there that are 6-9 that don’t do anything after high school,” Fries said. “Nils is not that person. He was in here every single day getting better.”

Dejworek, who graduated with his class Saturday, became the seventh Furtah basketball player in the three years to earn an athletic scholarship. Two more players from this past season’s squad — Sam Wilson and Milos Sikimic — are still weighing their college options and could sign before the end of the month.

“I’m just so happy that we have guys that put the effort in to play at the next level,” Fries said.

Valdosta State coach Mike Helfer thinks Dejworek will be a good fit for the program.

“Nils is a very skill big man that knows how to play the game,” Helfer said. “He is also a great person that will represent our program in a positive way on the floor, in the classroom and in the community. We are excited about adding him to our basketball family.”

Dejworek has a strong chance of starting for the Blazers as a freshman, another thing that made the program appealing.

“There is nobody there at my position,” Dejworek said. “It looks very likely that I can play my 30 minutes there as a freshmen. That is very good, because Valdosta State is not known for taking high school students.”

Dejworek will be one of just two high school players graduating and joining the team this fall. Most of the Blazers’ roster is made up of players who either transferred up from junior colleges or down from Division I programs.

Dejworek will be Valdosta’s tallest player, and it’s only international import.

“Hopefully, I can teach them a couple things in German,” Dejworek said.

Dejworek is also the third member of his family to play college basketball in the United States. One older brother, Philip, played at Portland, while another, Mike, played at Belmont and The Citadel before returning to Europe to coach.

Nils Dejworek would like to one day reunite with his Mike on the court.

“I know it will be more physical in college than it is in high school,” Dejworek said, “but I’m hoping to keep developing my game and hopefully go pro in Germany.”

Should basketball not work out for Dejworek, his backup plan also has a family connection. He plans to major in kinesiology, a field in which his father is employed back in Germany.

Along the way, Fries said he will keep in touch with Dejworek.

“I took him down (to Valdosta) for the workout and the tryout,” Fries said. “It’s a straight shot and only a couple of hours. He and I will be in touch. We have become very close in his short time here.”

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