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Posted On: 12/19/17 6:35 PM
During the latter stages of his high school career, 6-foot-9 220-pound Arminas Kleisys authored spurts of promise.
A massive presence interior presence, Kleisys began dunking with both hands consistently and playing to his size. Tasked with patrolling the paint, protecting the rim, and providing hustle points, Kleisys eventually developed a back to the bucket game.
A feathery short-range jumper, one which he vows to improve during his post-graduate season at Scotland Campus Sports, began to show life.
Once a supplementary option scoring the ball, a new confidence blossomed within the Lithuanian. Laced with upside, the then-senior pulled in offers from high Division-II programs such as Shepherd University (W.V.). When weighing the potential stock increase of additional year to fully develop (and extend that burgeoning soft touch to 18-foot and beyond the arc) Kleisys took the post-graduate route.
Under the tutelage of nationally recognized program builder Chris Chaney, Scotland Campus Sports was the most logical destination. Chaney, who has won three National Coach of the Year awards, has developed No.1 ranked frontcourts.
He’s been equally as influential in enabling under-valued, under-the-radar bigs discover their potential.
After earning an invite to a prestigious Top-150 camp in Lithuania, where he typically towered over foes his age, Kleisys found a route to America. He’s already tasted superior competition, having played for Bishop Ireton (Va.) of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC).
Kleisys will experience much of the same this season, as SCS will crisscross the country with a national schedule that includes ramped up exposure on the Grind Session circuit. An increased physical game and a reliable mid-range game are essential must-haves in Kleisys development. He’s now subscribing to a strict regimen that places emphasis on both concepts, adding layers to his overall product.
PH: How would you describe the adjustment to playing in the United States? What are the key differences in the game here and the style implemented back home?
AK: It’s a lot different than the game we play back at home. Here, it’s a lot more physical. At home, it’s much more of a finesse game. There are more set plays and run more plays to work through in getting a shot off. It’s quicker-paced here. There’s more height here, as opposed to in Lithuania. You have to keep pace in the United States, the game is so much quicker.
PH: In which ways have you tweaked your style and development in order to play in the current system here in the United States?
AK: I have to get more physical. That’s something I’ve put a lot of focus on, everyday really. I am adjusting to playing the four. Last year, I really wasn’t shooting the ball. This year, part of my role will involve shooting the ball, getting more comfortable with my shot. I’m also shooting 3-pointers for the first time and trying to get that shot established. I’m looking to improve in every category and get stronger, faster, more physical, and improve as a shooter. This year, my game is going to change a bit.
PH: Being in the D.C. and Virginia area, how would you describe the level of basketball in the ultra-tough WCAC?
AK: I honestly think it’s one of the best conferences in the country. We had traditional powerhouses like DeMatha, Gonzaga, St. John’s, Gonzaga private schools consisting of some of the best players in the country. I played against Markelle Fultz my sophomore year. I also played against Chris Lykes, who is now at Miami under Jim Larranaga. There is talent on every team in the conference. It definitely helped me become a guy who can play rim to rim. I had to adjust to running the floor more than ever.