The University of Utah men’s basketball team has completed its roster for next season by going abroad.
The Utes late Monday afternoon announced the signing of Norbert Thelissen, a 6-foot-7 Dutch forward who has played professionally in the Netherlands with Den Bosch since the 2017-18 season when he was just 17.
Due to NCAA rules, Thelissen will not be eligible until the 2021-22 season, but Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak told The Salt Lake Tribune in a text message that Thelissen will be on scholarship next season while he sits. With that, Utah is now at the maximum of 13 scholarships for 2020-21.
“Norbert’s combination of experience, skill, athleticism and high basketball IQ really stood out to us,” Krystkowiak said in a statement. “We are very excited and grateful for his belief in our program and decision to play college ball rather than the professional route in Europe.
Thelissen, who averaged 13.2 minutes per game across 19 contests for Den Bosch last season, also has considerable international experience, having played for the Netherlands at the FIBA European U18 Championships in 2018 and the European U20 Championships.
The intrigue surrounding Thelissen is multilayered. He is the third Ute on the roster with international experience, joining sophomore forward Mikael Jantunen (Finland) and freshman combo guard Pelle Larsson (Sweden), both of whom delayed their returns to campus until early next month while working out with their respective national team programs. Like Larsson, Thelissen will come to campus having already played professionally. Larsson played in his native Sweden for BC Lulea.
After sitting next season, Thelissen will not debut with Utah until after he turns 21, which in theory should benefit him in terms of maturity and physicality.
For now, Utah is slated to open the season Nov. 10 vs. Utah Valley.