Going down to the wire for Kleiza

Getting information on the new developments with Linas Kleiza has been tough. With so few people willing to speak on record and Kleiza in Lithuania until tomorrow, information gathering has definitely been a challenge. But IC has assembled sufficient information from sources close to the situation to put together the following report on the 6-8, 240-pound post player.

First, Linas Kleiza is currently in Lithuania trying out for the nation's junior national team. We've received confirmation from the tryouts that he is fully expected to make the cut. The World Championships will be held July 10-20 in Thessaloniki, Greece (they were to be held in Malaysia, but have been moved due to SARS concerns).

Second, Florida State, who recently took a commitment from Alexander Johnson, an athletic and explosive 6-8 PF, are on the outside looking in. They have not been officially eliminated, but they're currently a very distant third, according to one of IC's best sources of information.

"He likes the ACC. If he doesn't play at Missouri, I'm sure that he'll play in the ACC," said a source close to the situation. "I think it's going to come down to UNC and Missouri, I doubt that the pro stuff over there will happen."

It's looking like Missouri's Quin Snyder and Roy Williams at North Carolina are both aggressively going toe-to-toe for the skilled post prospect. Both head coaches are trying to secure the signature as their last player taken in the class of 2003.

"He's definitely more intrigued with UNC then he was before," the source said. "Coming from Lithiuania, he had no idea what UNC was all about. It's not like it is here in the states."

Before Kleiza left for Lithuania, it was confirmed that he'd probably take a visit to North Carolina upon his return and decide on his fate shortly thereafter. Now, that's not so sure. With both head coaches in the elder Kleiza's ear, it has come down to who is the better salesman.

"We're still not sure if a visit to UNC is going to happen," said a source. "Before he left, we thought it would probably happen, but when I spoke with his father last, he seemed like visiting there when he got back wasn't so urgent."

Snyder wants Kleiza to come back to the states and immediately select the Tigers, who've been his leader and favorite for quite some time. Williams, on the other hand, is fighting for Kleiza to take a visit to Chapel Hill upon his return to see what the Tar Heels have to offer.

Both coaching staffs are working night and day to make sure that their last lone target in the class of 2003 doesn't slip away. As of right now, it is not known as to whether Kleiza will visit UNC upon his return. The UNC staff wants the Lithuanian big man to come down to Chapel Hill as soon as possible, possibly even Friday, while the Mizzou staff is trying to prevent the visit from happening altogether.

"We think they (UNC staff) are trying to set up the visit for Friday, but he may be too tired to do it so fast," a source said. I don't know if he's still planning on visiting, but I think he is. I'm just not so sure because I didn't ask Linas today when I spoke with him."

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