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Former Washington State forward Andrej Jakimovski getting to work with CU Buffs

Jun. 10—Andrej Jakimovski this spring completed the sort of collegiate career that not too long ago might have been considered storybook.

Capping a four-year run at one school by playing a part in one of the program's best seasons in decades might be a road less traveled in the transfer era of college basketball. The end of that journey, however, is commonplace these days, as Jakimovski has arrived in Boulder to join his new Buffaloes teammates for summer workouts.

A 6-foot-8 forward who played 120 games at Washington State, Jakimovski has delayed the start of a potential pro career to join the Buffs for his extra season of eligibility granted by the NCAA for the COVID season of 2020-21, when Jakimovski played in 25 games for WSU as a true freshman out of North Macedonia.

Jakimovski is one of six newcomers beginning workouts with the Buffs this summer, including fellow graduate transfer forwards Elijah Malone (Grace College) and Trevor Baskin (Colorado Mesa). No player on the Buffs roster has played more Division I games than Jakimovski (Malone played 139 games at Grace, an NAIA program) and he will look to replicate his experience last season, when a WSU team largely unheralded during the preseason ultimately finished 25-10 with the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 16 years.

Jakimovski enjoyed a big game in Boulder this past season (four 3-pointers, 19 points), and he said his competitive respect for CU head coach Tad Boyle made his decision easy.

"I'm a big coach Boyle fan," Jakimovski said. "I'm a fan of his system, of his style of play. I think in the past years we showed respect on the court. Once I got Colorado's offer, I decided I'd focus on being here for the next year, and I think my stock will go higher if I have a good year."

Jakimovski likely will play a key role in the Buffs' quest to compete in their new conference home in the Big 12. Jakimovski averaged 7.1 points during his WSU career, posting career-high marks as a senior in scoring (9.7) and rebounding (5.7). Although Jakimovski's 3-point percentage dipped to.332 — his lowest mark since shooting .320 as a freshman — he finished his WSU career ranked ninth in program history in made 3-pointers (184) and seventh in attempts (536).

When Jakimovski joined the Buffs in April, Boyle expressed confidence the veteran forward might bring more to the mix compared to how he was used at WSU, saying, "I think he has some things in his game offensively that maybe he hasn't shown." Jakimovski agrees, describing himself as a "three and D guy" at WSU who is looking forward to expanding his game in CU's five-out attack.

"I think ball-handling, playing the pick-and-roll, and cutting. Cutting is huge here," Jakimovski. "Tristan da Silva was really good at that. Cody Williams was really good at it. Those players are kind of my size in my role. I think I can compete really well in the system. And then everything else — shooting, passing, ball-handling — I'll be able to do that here.

"The first couple days were great here. We played one-one-one, we played three-on-three, we played five-on-five. I like their style of play. I like the plays that they run offensively. We just have to get to know each other. It's a new team. But I was in the same boat last year."