College of Southern Idaho men's basketball coach Jeff Reinert said UND basketball fans might just want to call 6-foot-9 center Tsotne Tsartsidze, who committed to UND this week, what he calls him: Big T.
Reinert might not have the perfect pronunciation for his big man, but he thinks the Fighting Hawks landed a good one.
"I think North Dakota got a diamond," Reinert said. "He can play inside and outside and has a great skill set. He's a tough kid. He's a good one."
Tsartsidze, who has three seasons of eligibility remaining, came to the United States six years ago from his native Republic of Georgia.
Reinert said Tsartsidze hurt his ankle in high school in Modesto, Calif., and recruiters backed off. He started his junior college career at Howard.
"He has a nice low-post game with his back to the basket," Reinert said. "He has good footwork and the ability to stretch the floor."
Tsartsidze spent the 2020-21 season at the College of Southern Idaho, helping the Golden Eagles advance to the second round of the NJCAA National Tournament with a 21-4 record and a conference title. While at CSI, he finished fourth in scoring (7.3) while pacing the team in rebounding (5.7), blocked shots (0.9) and field goal percentage (.553) in just under 24 minutes of action.
"We played 12 people, so his numbers may be ... T didn't get a ton of shots," Reinert said. "We had a three guard who scored really well and was one of the best in the country. Nowadays, it's a lot of guard play and not bigs. It's kind of the way the game has evolved, which I don't necessarily like. We tried to get him 10 shots a game, but he's so unselfish."
His best game came in a 79-70 victory over Utah State Eastern on March 6, scoring 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting while pulling down 14 rebounds to secure the double-double. Tsartsidze also led the team in scoring in a road win over fellow transfer Matt Norman's Snow College squad, striking for 13 points and six boards.
"Tsotne was the starting post for one of the best junior college programs in the country and will make an immediate impact for our basketball program," UND coach Paul Sather. "He's got great size with soft hands, good feet, and a skill set that allows him to score both inside and out. He plays with a great motor, active on the glass, high effort on defense and will get out and run the floor hard. Tsotne is a high academic student that will be pursuing a degree in business here at UND."
Prior to his year at CSI, Tsartsidze played his freshman season at Howard College in Texas, where he started 25 games. He averaged just over 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Tsartsidze is one of seven incoming recruits for UND's class of 2021. The group includes four prep athletes and three from junior college or another NCAA institution.
The 2021 high school recruits include guard Paul Bruns of North Sioux City, S.D., guard Reid Grant of Johnston, Iowa, center Brian Mathews of Chicago, center Gavin McGrath of Onalaska, Wis.
The other additions are forward Brendan Howard of Montana State-Billings, guard Matt Norman of Snow College and Tsartsidze.