Zemgulis Details Penn State Pledge

Leonardtown, Md., St. Mary's Ryken junior sharp shooter gives the lowdown on his Monday commitment.

Last June, Deividas Zemgulis trekked across the Atlantic Ocean from his native Lithuania to Leonardtown, Md. He wanted to experience a different culture, discover the American dream, and perhaps most importantly, play basketball.

This April, the St. Mary's Ryken three-star small forward visited University Park for the first time. Head coach Patrick Chambers' Lions offered Feb. 22, and to this day, remain the only program that has.

Monday, Zemgullis decided one offer was all he needed. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound junior verbally committed to the Lions to swell their class to two with Philadelphia four-star center Mike Watkins already on board.

"Well, first of all, the coaching staff!" Zemgullis wrote in a message when asked why he picked Penn State. "I loved what I saw from their side. Really energetic people, that, in my opinion, I need in my future career in college on and off the court."

"I love playing for coaches who are motivated to get better every day."

Zemgullis said he saw many similarities between his current coaches and Lion leader Chambers.

"I love [Chambers] energy and positive attitude!" Zemgullis wrote. "That kind of coach just pumps me up and make me play, practice and try even harder!"

Penn State's competition and campus setting also played a role in the decision to commit, the junior said.

"I loved the campus; it really felt like a good college atmosphere and that's a big thing that I was looking for," Zemgullis wrote. "Also, the conference [the Big Ten]; I wanted to play in a big conference and compete against the best athletes in the NCAA.

"So, by talking to my parents and coaches, I felt that this would be the best decision I could make. I feel really happy and excited to be a Nittany Lion."

So what is Penn State getting in the Lithuanian?

For starters, a competent — and self-trusting — shooter. Zemgullis wrote that he feels confident his shot is going in each time the ball leaves his hands. He's also confident in his ability to play on one of college basketball's biggest stages. His participation in the Under-16 European Championships with the Lithuanian team is evidence of that.

Scout.com's Evan Daniels agreed with the small forward's self-assessment. Following a recent AAU event, Daniels called Zemgullis a "stock riser" before later noting "he has a strong body and good size. … He's a shot maker to three with good range."

As for his role with the Lions, Zemgullis said he's willing to take on whatever is needed to make the team as a whole better.

"Whatever role they ask for me to be; I believe in my shooting ability, but I will do whatever is asked for the team to win and get them on top!" Zemgullis wrote.

Much is yet to come for the still adjusting shooter. He says he is growing more and more confident with his mastering of the English language, and added he is happy with his school and the adjustment period to date.

Of course, plenty of that is thanks to basketball. Zemgullis' transition has been eased by teammates at St. Mary's Ryken and from his AAU team, the Pack of Southern Maryland.

He's expecting the same type of acceptance, and growth, at Penn State.

"I'm happy that the process is over because now I can concentrate on my game 100 percent and prepare myself for Penn State and the Big Ten!" Zemgullis wrote.

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