LOGAN, Utah — Utah State University basketball player Max Shulga would certainly be forgiven if his focus wasn't entirely on the court.
Born and raised in Kyiv, the Ukrainian-born sophomore guard has plenty on his mind besides hoops and schoolwork as he watches the Russian invasion of his home country unfold from across the globe.
"It doesn't feel real," said Shulga. "It honestly feels like a video game."
Shulga left Ukraine when he was 13 years old, but returned there at least once a year ever since. He remembers the tensions between Ukraine and Russia while growing up, but it had died down until the recent flare up.
While his family is safe, Shulga is pained to see others suffering.
"My parents, I'm happy to see them, but at the same time, I know there is other people and relatives of random people just dying out there, fighting for our country," he said.
During Sunday's home game against Colorado State, Aggie students showed their support for Shulga by holding up blue and yellow placards to replicate the Ukrainian flag.
"One of the guys from the student section told me they had a surprise for me in the game," recalled Shulga. "So I kind of expected it, but not to that extent. The whole section lit up in the Ukrainian flag; blue and yellow. That was really good, I enjoyed that moment and I appreciate all the support."
Shulga said there is little doubt that his countrymen and women will prevail, saying it's the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people that will push them to victory.
"We stand our ground until we fall, basically, that is it."