Athlete Spotlight - Nazr Mohammed

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" Shouldn't that be seven and counting? Way to go CATS, 1998 NCAA Champs! "
  - OnOnUK

  JASIKEVICIUS A driving ambition brought Jasikevicius to College Park.    (John W. McDonough)

Sarunas Jasikevicius,

Class: Senior    Position: Guard

Height: 6'4" Weight: 190

DOB: March 5, 1976

Hometown: Kaunas, Lithuania

High School: Quarryville (Pa.) Solanco

Vital Stats: 12.6 points per game, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 40.1% three-pointers

by Albert Lin

There is no question why Sarunas Jasikevicius came to this country. The United States is the land of opportunity, after all, and that is exactly what Jasikevicius is looking for. "My parents want me to come here because of education. Basketball comes second to them," he said. "But for me, it comes first. [The NBA] has been my goal from the first time I knew what it was all about."

When things are going well, as they are now, Jasikevicius (pronounced yes-uh-KA-vi-shus) seems mere months from realizing his dream. "There ain't no way he's not going to play in the NBA," the league's director of scouting, Marty Blake, told The Washington Times two years ago. "That kid can really knock it down. It's funny that he's the one guy on [Maryland] that has can't-miss potential."

Paradoxically, when Blake made that pronouncement Jasikevicius was in the midst of deciding whether or not he wanted to transfer. With seniors Duane Simpkins, Johnny Rhodes and Exree Hipp ahead of him at the wing positions, he was not getting the playing time he thought he deserved. He had been willing to sit for one year, but as a sophomore he felt he was being denied a chance. "That was the bottom of everything," he said. "I was like, 'This is it for me.'" After analyzing the circumstances, however, he decided to stay in College Park for the obvious reason: With Simpkins, Rhodes and Hipp set to depart, playing time would be plentiful.

Jasikevicius has started every game since. As a junior, he went from 10th on the team in minutes to fourth and was the Terrapins' No. 3 scorer. This season he's been even better, improving his numbers in every department but rebounds. In addition to his shooting ability, Jasikevicius is a fine passer and has improved his defense. "We're not afraid to put him on anybody," coach Gary Williams said.

In the back of his mind, there always loomed an option: Jasikevicius could pack his bags and begin earning money playing basketball in his native Lithuania. "Every time I go home, they offer it," he said. But even at his low point, he never seriously considered the suggestion. "I don't want to go there," he said. "I want to go to college and see if I can do any better than Lithuania."

So far, so good.

Other Spotlights
March 16: Mateen Cleaves, Michigan; Murriel Page, Florida
March 15: Jason Hart, Syracuse
March 14: Kris Johnson, UCLA
March 13: Lee Nailon, Texas Christian
March 12: Brian Earl, Princeton
March 11: Tyrone Weeks, Massachusetts
March 10: Brett Robisch, Oklahoma St.
March 9: Larry Hughes, Saint Louis

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