ORONO — Kilian Cato lives in Espoo, Finland, a large city of more than 350,000 people.
Even so, he felt quite comfortable during his visit to the University of Maine over the weekend.
His time on campus left such a good impression that the 18-year-old has given a verbal commitment to attend UMaine on a basketball scholarship starting next fall.
“I came here Friday, so I was introduced to the school and all the surroundings,” said the 6-foot-7 forward. “Overnight I thought about it and I thought that this was the place and I made the decision.”
Cato caught the eye of UMaine associate head coach Doug Leichner last year when he was playing for Finland at the Under-18/19 European Championships in Israel. Black Bears freshman forward Alasdair Fraser of Scotland also competed in that tournament.
“Because of basketball, I’ve been able to travel all over the world and see different kinds of places,” Cato said.
This season, Cato is playing for Tapiolan Honka (8-6), a Finnish club team. He is averaging 12.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals while shooting 56 percent from the field, 58 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent from the foul line.
“I think I’m pretty athletic, versatile, can do lots of different kinds of things — outside, shoot the 3, put the ball down, dribble,” Cato said of his game.
UMaine head coach Ted Woodward is prohibited by NCAA rules from commenting on recruits until the school has received a signed National Letter of Intent. The late signing period begins in April.
Cato said UMaine appears to be a good fit for his academic and athletic pursuits.
“The program, the study opportunities, all the people here and the basketball stuff, everything is just great here,” said Cato, who plans on studying business and/or economics.
He said the people he met during his visit were what led him to commit to UMaine without taking any other recruiting visits in the United States.
“I talked with the coaches and they introduced me to all these people. All this made me comfortable,” Cato explained.
Cato is confident he’ll be able to adapt to Orono.
“(Espoo) is a pretty big city, but I think I can manage it here,” he said.
Cato’s participation at UMaine is contingent upon his meeting academic standards and NCAA initial-eligibility guidelines.