This story originally appeared in the Naples Daily News written by Adam Fisher.
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For the four Seacrest Country Day School athletes signing national letters intent at a ceremony Wednesday, it was a long journey to get to play their sports in college.
However, two of the Stingrays had to travel extra far to achieve their dreams. They had to cross oceans.
Jovan Stulic came to Seacrest two years ago from Serbia with the goal of playing basketball in college. Jayson Iten came to Naples from Switzerland some years ago with the hopes of landing a college scholarship to play golf.
Both achieved their goals Wednesday. Stulic, a 6-foot-6 guard, signed with Division I basketball program Arkansas-Little Rock, while Iten committed to Nova Southeastern, one of the top Division II programs in the nation.
Also at Wednesday's ceremony in the school gym, golfer Blake Wheeler signed with Liberty, a Division I team. Josh Powers, who first swam then ran cross country at Seacrest, committed to Queens University in the growing NCAA sport of triathlon.
"I wanted to get a degree and keep playing basketball at the same time," Stulic said of moving to the United States. "I'm so excited to start my college career, move to a higher level of basketball and keep building my game."
Stulic arrived at Seacrest after playing 10 years as a kid in Serbia. He took to the American prep game right away, averaging 22.5 points, 6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 assist last year as a junior.
At Little Rock, Stulic will play in the Sun Belt Conference for a program that made the NCAA tournament in 2011 and 2016. The Trojans knocked off Big Ten power Purdue in the first round in 2016.
Stulic also gets to play for former NBA player Darrell Walker. Walker made the All-Rookie team in 1984 before an 10-year NBA career. He was on the 1993 Chicago Bulls that won the NBA title.
"I like the coaches, that's the major reason I chose (Little Rock)," Stulic said. "It's a solid level of competition and I'll have a chance to show my skills as a freshman."
When Iten arrived in Naples, he didn't speak any English. But he also had a strong background in his sport, playing golf across Europe as a youth.
Iten heads to a Nova Southeastern team perennially ranked in Division II, and Iten has his sights set on winning a national title.
"I came to (America) to improve my game," Iten said. "I wanted to get better. It's a big relief (to sign) because I've put in a lot of hard work for this."
Iten signed alongside Wheeler, his teammate for the past three seasons. They both placed in the top 10 at district and regional this year, and they helped the Stingrays finish third in the state in 2017 as juniors.
Wheeler will go to Liberty in Lynchburg, Virginia, which competes in the ASUN conference along with Florida Gulf Coast University.
"I'm pretty excited because of all the hard work I've put in with my dad and all my coaches and trainers helping me," Wheeler said. "To finally get to this point is really exciting."
Unlike the rest of his signing class, Powers didn't grow up dreaming of playing his sport in college. That's because he didn't know it existed.
Powers was a swimmer most of his life, but he knew he wasn't good enough to swim in college. This fall, he joined the Seacrest cross country team after he previously ran in middle school.
With a dad who's a cyclist and a trainer who's a triathlete, Powers started looking into triathlons. He found out triathlon is a growing sport in the NCAA, with about 20 teams competing in Division I.
Queens University, in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the best Division II programs in the country. The Royals won men's and women's triathlon national championships last season.
"It means so much (to go to Queens)," Powers said. "I love focusing on improving myself and becoming a better athlete."