Vasco Evtimov left the UNC Tar Heels basketball program in 1999 after receiving an offer to play professional basketball in Greece. Foregoing his final two seasons of eligibility, Evtimov still promised his mentor, Coach Dean Smith, that he would return someday, no matter what, to obtain his degree, proving how much his time on campus meant to him.
On Sunday, Evtimov fulfilled that promise and graduated from UNC with a degree in communications at the age of 41.
Congrats to all our @UNC_Basketball graduates today! Special mention of my former teammate Vasco Evtimov, who promised Coach Smith he would graduate. Left UNC in ‘99, played pro for 19 years, came back and finished 20 years later! Coach Smith & Guthridge are smiling down on you! pic.twitter.com/hwwM1Y9tqA— Brad Frederick (@BFrederickUNC) May 12, 2019
Hope you're watching, Coach.
Evtimov averaged 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds through 38 collegiate games. However, he redshirted during the 1997-98 season because he had to complete a mandatory ten months of French military service.
Prior to leaving, Evtimov promised that he would return to school in order to earn his degree.
And then there's Vasco Evtimov, who will graduate from UNC with a degree in communication studies this weekend, 20 years after he left school for a professional career. @chapelfowler's story from February: https://t.co/igkY9NRxzh https://t.co/MEdfWHpI00— Pat James (@patjames24) May 10, 2019
Fast forward to 19 years later: Evtimov rented an apartment near campus for the past five semesters in order to earn the credits necessary to walk in graduation. During that time, he helped the university's basketball program by ensuring all players on the roster were attending their classes.
20 years later, Evtimov achieved the goal he set for himself and his late head coach, who he knows was smiling down on him as he walked the stage to receive his degree this weekend.