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Already one of the tallest teams in the country, the Aggies grew a little taller with the latest signee.

The Utah State men’s basketball program announced the signing of Szymon Zapala Tuesday evening. The 6-foot-11 center is from Zaborze, Poland, and will join three 7-footers already on the Aggie roster for the 2020-21 season.

“We are thrilled to announce Szymon will be joining the Aggie family,” USU head coach Craig Smith said in a press release. “Szymon has the unique combination of being an absolute warrior on the floor and a borderline nuclear physicist in the classroom.”

Zapala signed his National Letter of Intent to join the Aggies. The 240-pounder played for the Poland National Team at the 2019 U18 FIBA European Championships.

At the tournament, Zapala helped lead Poland to the finals. He averaged 7.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game as his team finished second. Zapala scored in double figures in two games during the championships, logging a tournament-high 16 points against Estonia on 7 of 10 shooting from the floor. Zapala also added 10 points in the semifinals against the Czech Republic, finishing the tournament shooting 61.0 percent (25 of 41) from the floor.

Nationally, Zapala played for Trefl Sopot in the U20 Polish Cup. He helped his side to the championships and earned MVP honors. At the high school level, Zapala averaged 17.9 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 assists per game for SMS PZkosz Wladyslawowo. Zapala’s rebounding numbers included 4.2 offensive rebounds per game, while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Current Aggie Kuba Karwowski also played high school in Poland at SMS PZkosz Wladyslawowo. Karwowski came to USU after playing at a junior college. The 7-2 center will be a senior this upcoming season.

“Szymon is 6-11 and 240 pounds, and possesses great skill, physicality and has a high IQ for the game,” Smith said. “He has played at an extremely high level, representing the Polish National team. He has also been very well coached in Poland. Above all, he is a tremendous person with a great attitude that leaves a positive impression on everyone that he is in contact with.”

Zapala will join Aggie big men Neemias Queta, Karwowski and Trevin Dorius who are all 7-foot or taller. Then there are Klay Stall and Liam McChesney, who are both 6-10.

Queta returns for what many think will be his final season at USU. The two-time all-league center dealt with some injuries last season but finished strong at the conference tournament. Karwowski began the 2019-20 season as the starter, but had his appendix taken out after the first seven games and saw action off the bench in eight other contests the rest of the year. Dorius started three games and played in 25 during the season.

Shawn Harrison is the sports editor at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at sharrison@hjnews.com or 435-792-7233.

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