Iowa Involved with Gustys

With two available scholarships to use in the spring signing period, Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery is searching everywhere for talent. One place he's looking at storied Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, where Lithuanian power forward Rokas Gustys is making a name for himself.

Rokas Gustys grew up in the basketball crazy Lithuania. He developed his game and appeared on track to play professionally there after high school. Many of his countrymen dreamed of that possibility.

Gustys saw something different for himself. It would take him 4,500 miles from home.

Oak Hill Academy in Virginia invited Gustys into its very successful program. He accepted.

"I wanted to get a degree," Gustys said. "I wanted to play college basketball. I know it's a really huge thing here in the United States.

"After youth basketball, I had to decide whether to come to the states and play college basketball or stay there and go pro. That's why I decided to come to the United States."

It's working out well for the 6-foot-9, 245-pound power forward. Gustys reports scholarship offers from Rhode Island, Old Dominion, Tulane, Hofstra, UAB, Georgia and San Jose State. The Class of 2014 prospect said Iowa, Auburn and Boston College are recruiting him hard right now.

"I would say my strength is playing physical," Gustys said. "I am really strong. I think that will help me in college because I know it's a real physical game.

"I'm also good on defense. Defense is the first thing that I want to do. Then I look for offense. I want to go to a college that wants to play defense first."

Gustys said Iowa came to one of his games last week.

"They're really impressed with what I'm doing," he said. "They said they're going to bring the head coach (Fran McCaffery) in here and see my game. Iowa is very busy right now with their schedule during the season."

Gustys said the Hawkeyes' style suits his game.

"They play in the good conference," he said. "I hear a lot of good things about the Big Ten. A lot of people say that I'm a really good fit in that conference. I like to play physical. If you've ever seen my game, that's what I like to do.

"They have really, really good players and are well coached. I don't know much but I know it's a really good team. They're the best team that is recruiting me right now."

Gustys said Auburn and Boston College are pursuing him at the same level as is Iowa.

"Boston College, it's kind of hard because we don't know what's going to happen after the season," he said. "They've had a really tough season. But Auburn is really interested in me. They going to come to my game (tonight, Tuesday) or this weekend to see me live."

Rhode Island played host to Gustys on his first official visit earlier this month.

"I stayed for two days and I watched a game against UMASS," he said. "They impressed me because I can come in and play right away. That's something that I want to do.

"I don't need to go to a program that has a really big name. I just want to go somewhere where they want to work and win. I want to improve so I can play pro in four years. I want to have a good relationship with players and coaches, nice facilities and, of course, good academics."

Gustys said he's focused on finishing his Oak Hill career strong and will turn to recruiting when it ends next month. He's looking to major in Kinesiology.

"I'm going to visit the schools that I think are going to be a good fit for me," Gustys said. "I'm going to meet with (Oak Hill) Coach (Steve) Smith. He has a lot of experience in this. In 30 years, he has over 200 players who have gone Division I."

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