Marcel Ponitka in action for Montverde Academy - Photo by Dave Roback - The Republican

Marcel Ponitka in action for Montverde Academy – Photo by Dave Roback – The Republican

Zielona Gora, Poland (heinnews) – When players leave the United States for Europe it’s often like them falling off the face of the Earth for those in America. Marcel Ponitka helped Montverde Academy to an unprecedented third straight U.S. high school national championship last season. But now being back in his native Poland his name is off all radars in the U.S.

The 18-year-old’s message to NCAA schools is clear – he’s eligible for college and would love to come back to the States.

“I’m still planning to go back to the States for NCAA. We’ll see,” Ponitka told the Taking The Charge podcast.

“Yes, I’m still eligible.”

Ponitka played just one season in the U.S. as a senior at Montverde in Florida. He became the first Polish player to win a U.S. high school national championship.

He also graduated with what he says is a good GPA and also scored well on his college entrance exams. The Ostrów Wielkopolski native also had interest from some colleges.

“I had some offers to sign. I didn’t sign because I had to come back to Poland,” Ponitka said.

“I just didn’t sign and went home.”

And that interest has died down to nothing since returning to Poland and his previous club Stelmet Zielona Gora.

“When I came back, for them I think they thought I went pro or ended my career. They forgot about me,” he said.

“Now I’m just playing and no one knows that I am still eligible to play in the NCAA. No one is calling.”

Ponitka knew he would be returning to Poland after his one year in the United States after having agreed to do so with the Zielona Gora owner and management before hand. But Ponitka did not tell anyone in the States ahead of time.

“I didn’t know how they would handle it.”

Ponitka repeatedly said during the interview that he’s eligible for college in the U.S., saying he only has a “commitment” with Zielona Gora and not a contract. And there is only the remainder of this season.

“Then I’m free, and I can do anything I want.”

Ponitka is currently practicing with Zielona Gora’s professional team and getting some playing time in the first division, averaging 2.5 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.8 rebounds in 6.3 minutes in four games. He’s playing much more with the third division Muszkieterowie Nowa Sol team, averaging 21.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals in 33 minutes over four games.

Ponitka is also practicing regularly against his older brother and teammate Mateusz Ponitka, who is 22 years old and has played the last two summers with Poland’s senior national team.

“I’m fighting with him every single day in practice so that he can see that even though I am younger that I can be a pain in the ass,” the younger Ponitka joked.

When asked where he plans to play for the 2016-17 season, Marcel Ponitka said: “You know, I’m still open for the United States and still open for Europe. I’m just waiting to see what happens for next season.”

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