Midland F Arturas Valeika Gets Gopher Notice

Arturas Valeika, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward from Midland (TX) CC, is one of the country's top unsigned JC big men. Valeika is averaging 6.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game this year as he has helped lead the Chaparrals to an 20-3 mark and a No. 12 ranking in the latest NJCAA poll. The Vilnius, Lithuania native has received offers from several high profile programs, including Minnesota. GoldenSports.Net caught with Midland head coach Grant McCasland to learn the latest.

Arturas Valeika averaged 5.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season as the Chaparrals finished 24-7 and advanced to the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Midland head coach Grant McCasland said that Valeikam, who is leading the Western Junior College Athletic Conference in rebounding has received plenty of recruiting interest.

"Minnesota, Purdue and Wyoming are hitting him hard and have all offered him a scholarship. UNLV and USC are messsing with him. He is one of the better power forwards available."

McCasland said that Valeika is wide-open on his recruitment.

"He had no early vists and has no favorites right now. He does not have visits planned yet"

Minnesota has a connection with Midland as director of operations James Ware played at the JC power that has produced NBA players such as Mookie Blaylock, Spud Webb and Milt Palacio during the 1997-98 season. McCasland said that he and James go way back.

"I played at Baylor and played against James when he was a junior at Texas Tech and I was a senior. I became the director of operations at Texas Tech during his senior season."

Ware and Midland could have another connection as Ware has talked to Midland about recruiting Hopkins senior Steve Duncan. Ware attended Hopkins before signing with Colorado State and was an assistant at Hopkins from 2000-03.

McCasland said that Midland players typically sign in the late signing period, which means more schools could get into the mix.

Last season, seven Chaparral players signed in the last period. Tristan Martin (Houston), Mamery Diallo (Gonzaga), Ivory Clark (Washington State) J.D. Lewis (Texas), Matt Martin (Lubbock Christian), Alonzo "CJ" Hinds (Newberry College) and Blake Huggins (Lubbock Christian). The previous season, Midland finished third in the NJCAA Tournament and had four players sign in the late signing period as Brian Latham, Englebert Cherrington and Sergio de Randamie inked with Houston and Rodney Epperson signed with St. John's.

Midland faces Frank Phillips College (who they defeated 101-99 on the road in double overtime earlier this season) at home tonight. Midland is 20-3 with two of their losses to N. 1 Howard, which is undefeated.

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