NORMAN – Before arriving on campus at the University of Oklahoma, incoming freshman center Hannes Pöllä will represent his home country of Finland at the FIBA U20 European Division B Championship in Oradea, Romania. Pöllä and Finland’s U20 National Team open competition on Friday against Armenia.
“Playing in the colors of Finland is the highlight of my year,” said Pöllä. “It’s a great opportunity and honor for me to wear the Finish uniform and represent my country. This tournament will also help prepare me for first season at Oklahoma and I look forward to joining the young and talented Sooners team in a few weeks.”
Rated as a four-star recruit according to ESPN and a three-star recruit by Scout, Pöllä (6-11, 265) is ranked as the 34th best center in the 2017 signing class by ESPN. At 6-11, he will be the second-tallest player on a Sooner roster during the Kruger era and just the second European player (Amath M’Baye from France) to play for Kruger at OU.
“We’re very excited for Hannes and his participation in the U20 European Championship,” said Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger. “Not only will international tournament play further prepare him for his freshman season at OU, but this opportunity to represent his home country is something he’ll be able to cherish throughout his career. We look forward to cheering him on from Norman.”
Pöllä will join the Sooners after a successful 2016-17 season in the Finnish League with Helsinki Basketball Academy, averaging 12.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 blocks.
The incoming Sooner has previously competed for both the U16 and U18 Finnish National Teams. During the 2016 U18 Nordic Championship, Pöllä averaged 7.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest.
Following Friday's matchup with Armenia, Finland continues through group play with games against Poland (Saturday), Belgium (Sunday) and Belarus (Wednesday). The top two teams from each group qualify for the quarterfinals, which begin on Friday, July 21. The top three finishing countries in the 21-team tournament will be promoted to FIBA's European Division A.
All games will be streamed on Youtube.com/FIBA. For more information on the FIBA U20 European Division B Championship, visit FIBA.com.