"He's going to be a really great post player in the American college game," said Roanoke head coach Dick Wall. "He's been here since August. He's big, takes up a lot of space, and put him near the rim and he'll get every rebound."
He nearly got every rebound in Friday night's semifinal win over Charlotte Christian in the regional tournament. Joneliunas officially had 15 rebounds, though we had him down for a total of 20 boards (8 off.) and he also registered 6 blocks.
Dozens of programs around the country are pursuing the Lithuanian, who has only been in the U.S. for five months
He said he may commit before the spring signing period, and that South Carolina and Marquette are recruiting him the hardest. USC head coach Dave Odom was very present among the Roanoke team after the game in the hallway.
As for the Tar Heels?
"Coach Wojcik was here yesterday," Wall said. "They have not offered a scholarship."
With Joneliunas, UNC faces three tough questions, of which the jury may be out on all three. 1) Does he fit the Carolina system? In other words, can he run with the fast-paced team that prefers the fast break over the halfcourt set? 2) Will he be an impact player his freshman year of college? That is a must for Carolina, or else they'll opt for someone in the following class. 3) If the answer to questions 1 and 2 are yes, then, does Carolina have a good shot at landing him if they offered? The Odom-Lithuania connection is well known, and the Gamecocks are the clear leaders at this point.
On the offensive end of the court Friday night, Joneliunas had 12 points (6-15 fg, 0-2 ft) all from within a few feet of the basket, mostly on putbacks. His post moves appear labored, but he both recovers and finishes well around the basket.
"He's getting better and better at finishing," Wall said. "He can face up and step out and shoot. I think he's going to be a great, great player. He's good right now, but he's going to be great."
* Justin Bohlander, the 6-7, 200-pound forward from R.J. Reynolds HS, showed Friday night that he'd be a welcome walk-on at any college. He totaled 13 points (3-9 fg, 7-9 ft), but in the first few minutes of the game displayed all anyone needed to see to justify him as a welcome walk-on – he took a defender off the dribble and finished strong and then moments later drilled a deep jumper. Throw in that he plays hard throughout and was a few rimmed-out shots from a 20-point performance, and you can see why UNC would be so interested in Justin Bohlander. One report from the stands indicated that he's received a scholarship offer from Southern Cal, but we've yet to confirm. Regardless, his play in Houston has indeed drawn interest from high-major programs, though the consensus among present experts Friday night is that Bohlander seems more suited for a low- to mid-major scholarship.
* This was a tournament that Ra'Sean Dickey and Marlboro County would like to soon forget. With Dickey in foul trouble, the team collapsed under the weight of the Vance (N.C.) full-court press, turning a close game into a 30-point rout. To say the game itself was ugly would be putting it nicely, as 18 third-quarter fouls slowed the contest to a crawl and sent spectators heading for the exits. As for Dickey, his good start was slowed by the aforementioned foul trouble. At halftime he had 11 points, 4 boards and 6 blocks. After sitting most of the second half and fouling out early in the fourth quarter, he finished with 16 points (5-9 fg, 6-8 ft), 7 boards and 6 blocks. The shotblocking in the first half was worthy of mention, as he patrolled the paint with authority early, and he also had a couple of nice finishes around the hoop. This still isn't the Ra'Sean Dickey we saw this past spring, but then again he had far better guard play on the AAU circuit and was more dominant in the post before he slimmed down, when opponents were bouncing off of him. Sitting front row center court to watch Dickey was South Carolina coach Dave Odom, while a Clemson asst. was spotted in the stands.
* To reiterate from last night's notes, Cassan Breeden is a 2005 player to watch. He again showed signs of future stardom for Marlboro County. The super-athletic, lean 6-7 sophomore had an impressive breakaway dunk literally through a defender, and looked real solid off the dribble. He totaled 13 points and a handful of rebounds. His game was limited by the fact that he had to play center while Dickey sat with foul trouble, but he fought hard on the glass and registered a few blocks.
* Even though Carolina asst. Doug Wojcik had already left Charlotte for the Tar Heels' game in Coral Gables, there was a strong UNC presence in the gym Friday – a total of five former Tar Heels: Bobby Jones and Pearce Landry are assistant coaches for Charlotte Latin; Brad Frederick, an asst coach at Vanderbilt, was in the gym scouting; Scott Williams was spotted in the stands; And Dennis Wuycik was there as the owner of the Prep Stars recruiting publication.
* As a footnote, and in an effort to help set the scene, let it be known that Charlotte Latin looks nothing like any high school I've ever been to. Then again, my high school cost $11,000 less per year. Latin's students not only pay $11K per year, but average a 3.2 GPA and a 1240 SAT. And, the multi-million dollar basketball facility is unparalleled at the high school level.
J.B. Cissell contributed to this article.