It’s official. Jakub Dombek is crossing the pond, with Boulder as his final destination.
On Saturday Dombek inked his name on the roster for the University of Colorado men’s basketball team, signing a national letter of intent to join the Buffaloes as a freshman for the 2018-19 season. A 6-foot-10 forward out of the Czech Republic, Dombek gave a verbal commitment to the Buffs last week.
CU head coach Tad Boyle credited assistant Bill Grier for the initial pinpointing of Dombek as a candidate to fill the Buffs’ void in the frontcourt. While Grier compiled a track record of bringing in European talent from overseas during his time as an assistant at Gonzaga, once Dombek’s club team traveled to the United States for various showcases last fall, the courting became a team effort for CU’s staff.
“We identified him in the fall, and obviously we started a dialogue with both he and his coach,” Boyle said. “We’ve been recruiting him since the fall. He came over here with his team and they played at a prep school event in Rhode Island. Coach (Kim) English went out and saw him. A day or two later he was in New York playing a game before they flew back, and I flew out to watch him play that game.
“While coach Grier was the guy that uncovered him and found him and brought him to our attention, coach English and myself were the ones that made the personal evaluations of him. At Colorado, coach Grier doesn’t sign guys. Coach English doesn’t sign guys. Coach (Mike) Rohn doesn’t sign guys. Tad Boyle doesn’t sign guys. We as a coaching staff sign guys.”
Dombek fills a frontcourt spot that has been in flux over the past six months. CU originally had an open scholarship even after guards Elijah Parquet and Denver East’s Daylen Kountz signed in November. That open spot was at least penciled in when senior forward Tory Miller-Stewart suffered a season-ending broken foot after six games, but he ultimately decided to spend his fifth and final collegiate season elsewhere as a graduate transfer.
Even before Miller-Stewart’s injury, Boyle stated that spot would be reserved for a frontcourt recruit. Dombek and his versatile skills fill that void.
“He’s got a very good skill-set, but he’s definitely got some things he’s got to get better at,” Boyle said. “Probably the first thing is strength. He’s 190 pounds, and he’s 6-11 with shoes on. He’s 6-10½ without shoes. He’s obviously very skinny and under-developed physically. But he’s got tremendous skill-set in terms of being able to shoot the ball and he can really handle the ball for a guy his size. And he’s got a great motor. He really runs the floor.
“As I look at Jakub, I look at a guy that has the potential — and again, I emphasize potential — to play in the NBA someday. He’s got that kind of upside. I can’t say that for every guy that we’ve signed or that we’ve recruited. Some have better chances than others. But all the things he has to get better at, they’re achievable.”
While Boyle doesn’t typically divulge redshirt plans before the waning weeks of the preseason, his description of Dombek’s physical shortcomings is reminiscent of the issues that dogged Dallas Walton out of Arvada West High School. The 7-foot-1 Walton took a redshirt season during his true freshman year of 2016-17, and after Miller-Stewart’s injury he emerged to start 25 games while averaging 5.7 points and 3.4 rebounds. Walton also led CU with 34 blocked shots.
Assuming the Buffs’ projected frontcourt — Walton, Lucas Siewert, Tyler Bey, and an Evan Battey still working his way back from a midseason stroke — heads into the 2018-19 season fully healthy, it’s not out of the question Dombek could spend the bulk of his first season at CU as a redshirt in the weight room.
“This is not an immediate-dividend type of signing,” Boyle said. “That’s not to say he can’t help us next year, because I think he can in spots. But in terms of being a guy we really depend on night in and night out, that’s probably down the road for Jakub in his career in Colorado. But hopefully not too far down the road.”