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A day after signing a center from Poland, the Aggies inked a guard from Ukraine.

Max Shulga made it official on Wednesday by signing a National Letter of Intent to join Utah State for the 2020-21 season. The 6-foot-4 190-pounder is from Kiev, Ukraine.

“We are thrilled to announce that Max Shulga will be joining the Aggie family,” USU head coach Craig Smith said.

Shulga played for Ukraine at the 2019 U18 FIBA European Championships, grading out as the most efficient player for his team and among the top five most efficient players in the entire tournament.

Shulga scored in double figures in all but two games during the competition, turning in a tournament-best 22 points against Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also surpassed 20 points against North Macedonia, scoring 21 points and adding 16 rebounds for his first of two double-doubles. Shulga logged 18 points and 10 rebounds in a game against Georgia and finished the tournament averaging 13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game. The future Aggie was the top shooter in the tournament, connecting on 61.9 percent from the floor, including 65.2 percent from inside the 3-point line and 52.9 percent from beyond the arc.

“As witnessed by his numbers, Max is a versatile player that does a lot of things well on both ends of the court,” Smith said. “He’s tough, gritty, highly skilled and has a very good feel for the game. Max has great passion and energy. When you combine that with his character, he will thrive at Utah State.”

The guard attended high school at the Basketball School of Excellence in Torrelodones, Spain, where he led the league in scoring. He averaged 16 points per game and also led the league in free throw attempts, averaging 3.8 per contest.

There will plenty of opportunities at the guard position next season. The Aggies lost starters Sam Merrill and Abel Porter as well as one of the best off the bench in the Mountain West Conference in Diogo Brito. Merrill, the two-time MW Tournament MVP, leaves big shoes to fill.

Virginia transfer Marco Anthony is now eligible and will vie for a spot. Brock Miller is a returning starter, and Sean Bairstow saw action in all but two games off the bench last year. Shulga will join other freshmen guards Rollie Worster and Steven Ashworth.

Forward Nigel John has asked for a release after signing with USU last November. The 6-9 Texas native is looking to go to another school and will most likely lose a year or eligibility.

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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