Oddly enough, Jakub Dombek hasn't harbored dreams of playing college basketball very long. It's a relatively new passion, yet one he has pursued the past few years with diligence and focus.
College basketball finally became a reality for Dombek in August, as the 6-foot-11 forward from the Czech Republic arrived in Boulder to begin his career with coach Tad Boyle's Colorado Buffaloes.
"I didn't even know about this option," Dombek said. "But the last two years, when I played at my academy, they told me there is a way to get me to (an American) college. So I knew about it the last two years and I was working to get here. Before that, I knew about the NCAA but I didn't know there was a way to get here. Now I'm so glad to get here."
Like most international players, Dombek endured a long and often arduous process in his quest to get cleared by the NCAA and enrolled at CU. He has studied English only three years, so the placement tests he was subjected to upon his arrival offered an immediate and complex challenge.
Now familiar with the campus layout and settled into the routine of classes, Dombek has been working out with his Buffs teammates in anticipation of the first official day of practice, which for the Buffs is slated for Oct. 2.
Described by Boyle as a player with a potential inside-outside, NBA skill-set when he signed in April, one matter that remains of immediate importance for Dombek before he can contribute to the Buffs is adding strength to his lanky frame. Though listed at 6-foot-11, Dombek also checks in at just 190 pounds.
"Jake is going to class and he's trying to acclimate, just like any freshman. But there's a much steeper learning curve obviously because of the language barrier," Boyle said. "Jake is a very intelligent guy who will get up to speed very quick."
Boyle didn't comment on the possibility of a redshirt season for Dombek, as he typically doesn't finalize those types of decisions until the brink of the regular season in early November. However, if the Buffs' projected frontcourt of Dallas Walton, Lucas Siewert, Evan Battey and Tyler Bey at small forward remains healthy and intact, Dombek could benefit from a year on the sideline and a year in the weight room — although he already is 20 years old.
That would be a similar course as the one charted by the 7-foot Walton, who focused on his strength training during his true freshman year of 2016-17 and emerged to start 25 games last season while averaging 5.7 points and 3.4 rebounds with a team-leading 34 blocked shots.
"We'll see," Boyle said. "I don't even contemplate that stuff until we've had a preseason to go through. There is so much that can happen between now and November. Everybody has to get bigger, faster, stronger and become in the best shape that they can between now and when practice starts. We will sit down the first week of November and have those discussions."