Missouri leads for Kleiza

NC State has one more scholarship to give to the Class of 2003. From all indications, they would love to give a free ride to Montrose Christian's Linas Kleiza. The question is would Linas like to be in Raleigh? TSW caught up with Montrose assistant coach David Atkins to see how Linas' season and recruiting is going.

Linas Kleiza had knee surgery last summer, but that was a long time ago. Just ask his competition. This winter he has shown no ill-effects as he continues to dominate the games Montrose Christian has played. Assistant Coach David Atkins told TSW that the knee is just fine. "Everything is great with Linas. He is averaging 23 points and about 12 rebounds a game. He gets double doubles all the time. He runs well, but the thing about him is he passes the ball well. He came up big down in Raleigh over the holidays. He played against some good players. Anthony King and PJ Tucker were there. Tucker is a great player. He reminds me of a left-handed Roger Mason. He played well against both of them."

Montrose Christian captured the "A" bracket in the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational in Raleigh. Linas was named the MVP of his bracket.

Montrose currently is 8-1 and find themselves ranked #1 by the Washington Post. "Montrose has never been in that position. We do show both sides though. At times we look really good, but other times we need to improve. We got beat out in Hawaii by Fairfax by one point, then we bounced back the next night and beat the #2 team in the nation Miami Christian by 14."

Kleiza has been a great leader for Montrose during the current run according to Adkins. "Linas has been great. Nobody is as strong and he just continues to work to get better. He is the old gym rat. If he has an extra ten minutes, he's not chasing the girls. He gets in the gym and works for ten minutes whenever he can. The coaches have to keep coming up with new drills to keep up with his desire to be better. That's the kind of coach he wants to play for, a dynamic one that will make him better. It's a who's who list of coaches that are recruiting him, Quin Snyder, Herb Sendek, Pete Gillen. They all are calling and I tell anyone who calls the truth, including the coaches. Missouri is leading."

There were recent reports that had Kleiza committing to Quin Snyder and Missouri in the next few days. According to Coach Adkins, those reports are wrong. "That's not true. We have slowed the process down. He has some visits still to take and he will work those things out. We are trying to work on our season. He has taken an official to Florida State. He has visited Missouri and Virginia unofficially. He has also been up to Connecticut on an unofficial. Of course he was down in Raleigh during the tournament but he was not able to see much while he was there."

Kleiza returns to North Carolina to play in the Challenge Series, an event which takes place Jan. 11 on the campus of Duke.

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