Rutgers after Lithuanian forward

Rutgers already picked up one non-binding oral commitment for the class of 2010 in men's hoops, and are hoping to add another when an under-the-radar forward comes to campus this weekend. The player is not set on making a decision during the early signing period later this month. He has international experience, and could blow up into a top-rated recruit by the end of the season.

An ankle injury, not being on the AAU circuit and playing as a backup much of last season kept the recruiting of St. Benedict's of Newark (N.J.) 6-foot-8 forward Gilvydas Biruta to a minimum, but coach Dan Hurley says there is now a "flurry of activity'' involving his talented senior.

Biruta is scheduled to visit Rutgers this weekend, and is also eying a trip to Northwestern as the November early signing period approaches.

"Just off of word of mouth, he's had Arizona, Maryland, Northwestern, Seton Hall and Rutgers all recruiting him,'' Hurley said. "He's a smart guy, good student. He's a super athlete, explosive jumper and can really shoot it. He plays very, very hard, and he's got good size.

"It's a no pressure situation. If he's blown away by one or more of these schools early and feels like he wants to do something, than great. If not, he's going to have his pick in the late signing period. Somebody is going to get a real steal, and it's hard to steal a 6-8 kid.''

Biruta came to the United States in last summer, and beat out current Pittsburgh freshman Lamar Patterson for a starting spot at St. Benedict's. But a sprained ankle in early January sent him to the bench.

When Biruta returned, his health and stamina were compromised and he played as a reserve.

He also missed the summer AAU circuit when he smartly opted to play for the Lithuanian under-18 national team at the European Championships, gaining valuable experience but also limiting his visibility to college coaches.

"Some kids are kind of under the radar because they're late bloomers,'' Hurley said. "Gil is not really a late bloomer. He is kind of caught between no July (basketball) and he never played on an AAU team.

"He had a lot of interest in him as a junior and I think some schools might have gotten a little turned off by the fact he didn't start late in the season.''

Hurley compared to Biruta to former Rutgers standout Rob Hodgson. However, Biruta is more athletic.

"I think for any high major program, Gil could be a good get,'' Hurley said. "He's a step out four, a guy who can rebound. I think Gil could do some of the same things Rob could do, and he's a tremendous athlete. He's a kid with a lot of upside and a lot of skill.''


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