(Photo:Mitchell Webson/Echo Staff Photographer)
In May, the N. C. Central University men’s basketball team made history by signing its first international student-athlete.
Physical education freshman Marius Vaskys, a native of Klaipeda, Lithuania, arrived in the United States in November 2006.
The 6’9”, 220-pound center averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a game his senior year at Cape Fear Christian Academy, after arriving at the school last January.
Vaskys helped the team win the Carolina Christian Conference title.
In addition to adjusting to American culture, Vaskys is adapting to American players’ level of competition.
“The major difference I’ve noticed is the speed of the players in the United States,” said Vaskys.
“The players are also stronger and more athletic.”
Vaskys began playing basketball at age 7.
He attributes his success in basketball to his father, former Lithuanian professional soccer player Virginijus Vaskys.
“I was always taller than the kids my age, so my father introduced me to several basketball coaches,” said Vaskys.
“I began training and grew to like the game as I grew older.”
Throughout his basketball career, Vaskys has played every position on the basketball court.
An avid NBA fan, Vaskys idolized former greats Michael Jordan and John Stockton as a child.
Now, Vaskys enjoys watching his favorite NBA tea
m, the Denver Nuggets, for whom fellow Lithuanian Linas Kleiza plays.
NCCU head coach Henry Dickerson was excited to sign Vaskys.
“He’s your typical European player,” Dickerson said.
“He shoots well and handles the ball well.”
Cape Fear Athletics Director Al Myatt, a former great at Wake Forest in the 1970s, also speaks admiringly of Vaskys.
“He’s a great kid, very smart with a good sense of humor,” said Myatt.
“I expect him to do well at NCCU.”
Despite a 1-9 season thus far, Vaskys is comfortable with his role as the Eagles continue to make their transition to Division I.
“The team is getting better,” said Vaskys.
“I am comfortable playing for NCCU.”
“The atmosphere here is great.”