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Egor Koulechov's long journey from Russia to the U.S. leads him to Gator basketball

KOULECHOV

“I went to school in Russia for one day. The next day I was on a plane to Israel, no questions asked, no explanation."

As a child, Egor Koulechov had no choice but to make the abrupt move to Israel with his parents. They were looking for a better life than the one they'd been dealt in Russia, and for Koulechov, it was a tough adjustment.

"For a few months I would come home crying to my mom because I really couldn’t understand what was going on in the class.”

His family started off in a Kibbutz, which is a small community based on agriculture. Once he adjusted to the new environment and learned how to speak Hebrew, the community grew on him.

“As a kid it was great to grow up there because of the community, the friends, we had a great pool and a soccer field.”

Soccer was Koulechov's first love and he would play the game whenever he had the chance. “I started playing soccer very young," Koulechov said. "Every day during break in Israel when we had break for twenty minutes we would play soccer every day. That was really my sport it was really something I loved.”

It wasn't until his family moved to the city that he shifted to basketball. With no means of transportation to the soccer field, he found a new passion at the local basketball court that was five minutes from his house.

By the time he was fifteen he had plans to move to Spain to play basketball, but his club team in Israel was able to veto the decision and prevent him from leaving. Luckily for Koulechov, they couldn't stop him from moving to the United States to study and be a part of his school's team.

After countless hours of searching through the internet for opportunities, he stumbled across The Sagemont School in Weston, Fla. It's there where he was found by Arizona State, the first stop of his college career. Next, he transferred to Rice University, where he graduated from and built up a reputation as one of the top 50 transfer players in the country.

"All of a sudden I started getting a lot of phone calls," Koulechov said. "A lot of it was coaches who saw your name on a list and were just looking at stats. When [Mike White] called me I just wanted to know 'Did you watch me play, do you know what kind of game I’m playing and will that fit with the team?'

"I don’t think you can answer any of those questions without seeing me play first.”

In fact, White hadn't seen Koulechov play when he reached out via phone to extend an offer to the graduate transfer guard. After watching footage, White called Koulechov back and explained that the school would be a perfect fit for the 6-foot-five athlete.

Koulechov looks to be fitting in very well with the program, and he tied the record for most points scored during a Gator debut with 34 in the season opener. Not to mention the six threes he sunk, which proved he's worthy of the nickname '3gor', given to him by teammates at Rice.

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