EDINBURG, Texas (Valley Central) – Dima Zdor’s basketball journey brought him to UTRGV despite the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war back home. 

The graduate student played last season at fellow Western Athletic Conference opponent Grand Canyon University. Zdor realized his basketball dream at a young age after a sudden growth spurt.

“When I was 14 years old, I decided I’ll go to the best place where the best competition is, so I decided to move here in the States,” said Zdor. “My dad was like, ‘Hey man, you have no choice now but to play basketball.’”

Zdor went to three different high schools once he made it to the United States. Coaching changes at the schools were a major reason for that. 

Once he arrived at St. James School in Maryland, Division One basketball programs began to take notice of him. 

“I’ve had numerous kids from their prep school, who are high character men by themselves,” said Matt Figger, UTRGV Men’s Head Coach. “I actually recruited Dima when I was at my other institution. Unfortunately, we didn’t get him.”

Zdor arrived at UTRGV over the summer. Figger recruited him out of high school, so both knew each other well. Zdor’s decision to transfer was a win-win situation for both sides. 

“Had a good summer,” said Zdor. “Coach has been incredible. They do their best, you know, to invest in us their time and energy.”

Back home, however, has been tough. Zdor is originally from Ukraine.

The Russia-Ukraine war wages on, and it is a family affair for Zdor.

“All my family is involved. My dad, my uncle, they all joined the forces, and they protect the house,” said Zdor. “That’s what the men are supposed to do, so I have nothing but an extra amount of respect for every Ukrainian.”

Despite the ongoing conflict overseas, Zdor does not let that affect his performance on the court.

His maturity and leadership, once he steps out on the court, are what Figger respects the most.

“He’s got family members, defending what could be his livelihood,” said Figger. “Standing in the ground, taking a line in the sand to try to keep their country independent says a lot. He doesn’t bring any of those distractions. For me, I don’t know how I would handle that being in his shoes.”