A 6’9” Former Dale Brown LSU Basketball Player is Playing a David role vs. Goliath in Ukraine’s Defense against Russian Invasion

Roman Rubchenko, former LSU basketball player under Dale Brown.

Roman Rubchenko, a former LSU basketball player and native of Ukraine, is visiting Louisiana to raise awareness of the humanitarian aid needed in Ukraine due to the Russian invasion.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine started over two years ago. Rubchenko said that Russian forces were as close as 20 miles away from his country home in Ukraine.

The goal of his visit is to remind the public and Congress of the hardships the people in Ukraine are facing and why they require aid.

Rubchenko was a guest on Jim Engster’s Talk Louisiana on Wednesday on WRKF 89.3.

“The reason I’m here is to help inform the American people,” Rubchenko said. “I’ve noticed that with the passage of time the informational disbalance is growing larger and larger. People are not paying as much attention to this conflict because it’s two years old. Over two years old. Because it’s in a far-away land, because there’s other things happening around the world and there are other issues that they’re concerned about.”

The war in Ukraine has seen mass casualties. Ukrainian President Volodymry Zelensky said in February that over 31,000 Ukrainian solders have been killed and a U.S. intelligence report declassified in mid-December 2023 estimated that 315,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in Ukraine.

Rubchenko said that the people in Ukraine know that they are fighting Goliath. Ukraine has a population of over 40 million while Russia has over 140 million people. However, Rubchenko says they can only beat Russia if they have their “slingshot” like David did.

“I’m surprised to find that people are very favorable towards Ukraine right now, but the only thing that is missing is the feeling of urgency,” Rubchenko said. “We do need that slingshot and we need that slingshot yesterday. This is why I’m here asking people to reach out to their political representatives and to ask them to convince Mike Johnson to put the bill to the vote and let democracy work.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to allow a vote on the $95 billion foreign security aid bill passed by the Senate. Johnson has signaled that the House won’t consider any foreign aid packages until funding for the rest of the government is done. On Wednesday Johnson told reporters that the bill the House eventually passes may not look like the one passed by the Senate.

“There is a right and wrong there — a good versus evil, in my view. And Ukraine is the victim here. They were invaded,” Johnson said. “We’re processing through the various options right now.”

Rubchenko was born in Soviet Ukraine and lived there until he came to Louisiana to play for LSU.

He played basketball at LSU under head coach Dale Brown from 1992 to 1996. He played in over 90 games for the Tigers in his career. He started all 29 games his senior year and averaged 11.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in his final year.

He earned a BS from LSU and holds degrees from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

He went on to play professional basketball for teams in Turkey, Uruguay, Israel, Spain, France, Poland, Belgium, and Portugal. He also played for the Ukraine National team from 1996-98.

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Will Nickel

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