UIW coach says 7-footer set to return on Dec. 22

The Incarnate Word men’s basketball program learned Thursday that 7-foot center Konstantin Kulikov has been cleared to play this season, starting with a Dec. 22 road game at Florida.

Konstantin Kulikov (Soobum Im / The University of the Incarnate Word)

Kulikov’s status had been in question since October pending a review by the NCAA.

He hasn’t been able to practice or play during UIW’s 4-3 start, and he must sit out upcoming games against Missouri-Kansas City and UTEP, coach Ken Burmeister said.

But the coach said Kulikov will return to practice with the team on Friday, in preparation for his anticipated UIW debut at fifth-ranked Florida.

“We get him back for conference, you know, and that’s important,” Burmeister said.

UIW opens Southland Conference competition on Dec. 28 at McNeese State.

Kulikov is from Oryol, Russia. He comes to UIW with experience playing at a prep academy in Spain, in FIBA-sanctioned tournaments and at San Jacinto Junior College.

At San Jac, he started and averaged 6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for a squad that went 33-2.

UIW guard Keaton Hervey blocks a shot during the first half Tuesday night. The Cardinals, who rank fifth in the nation with 7.1 blocks per game, are expected to get boost in that department with the return of 7-foot center Konstantin Kulikov. Video: theJBreplay.com