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Dusan Ristic to sign with Serbian powerhouse Red Star Belgrade

After four years at Arizona, Ristic is returning home

NCAA Basketball: California at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

After four years with the Arizona Wildcats, Dusan Ristic is returning home to begin his pro career.

The Serbian 7-footer announced Monday that he is signing with Red Star Belgrade, the top team in his home country. Red Star, also known as KK Crvena zvezda, has won the Serbian League in four straight seasons.

Ristic’s contract is reportedly a multi-year deal.

“I’m more than excited to announce that I will start my professional basketball career at the European powerhouse Red Star Belgrade,” he said on Twitter. “Just like the University of Arizona basketball team, Red Star has an extremely rich history, tradition, and amazing fans. I’m thrilled to continue my career with a high level team, and to keep representing the University of Arizona worldwide.”

It’s a well-deserved outcome for Ristic. Once an obscure three-star recruit, Ristic developed into an All-Pac-12 player by the end of his UA career.

As a senior, he averaged a career-high in points (12.2) and rebounds (6.9), and became Arizona’s all-time winningest player, usurping Matt Muehlebach and Kaleb Tarczewski for that title.

“I think it will be a remarkable story considering where he was when he came here from high school, how he stayed, and how’s really impacted his last team,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said in February.

“He’s a fun guy to be around right now. Not that he wasn’t before, but everybody that’s followed our program closely saw him come here as a gangly 7-footer from Serbia who, I don’t know if any of us knew what he would be capable of, or if it would all work. Certainly, we recruited him, so we believed in him.”

Ristic was a fan favorite in Tucson, and had a memorable send-off in McKale Center.

When he checked out for the last time on Senior Day, he ripped off his jersey to unveil a white undershirt that read “Dusan Loves Tucson” in red letters on one side and “Thank You Arizona” on the other, before waving to the crowd.

After the game he bolted into the stands, giving one high five after another to the Wildcat faithful.

“It was cool, man,” Ristic said. “It was amazing. It was one of the best experiences that I had at U of A. That’s something that’s going to stay with me the rest of my life.”

While Ristic is leaving Tucson, his impact on the UA program will live on. Miller said he plans to use Ristic’s career path as an example for players who come through the program in the future.

“In college athletics and college sports, sometimes that four-year player, that guy who leaves with his degree in the end who’s kind of built his game over a long period of time, is lost,” Miller said. “But he’s a big reason that we’ve had the success we’ve had.”