Eight of the Top-10 prospects from the region’s 2022 Class have already committed to their future college programs. They will all either be headed to high major conferences or -in Reed Bailey’s commitment to Davidson- a program within the A-10 that boasts four NCAA Tournament appearances over the last eight seasons.
Over the next week, we’ll get updated looks into the recruitment of New England’s top available 2022 prospects…
Gudavicius was born-&-raised in Chicago but spent the last seven years in Lithuania where he’s come into his own as a player. Thanks to that diverse basketball upbringing, he owns a rare mixture of brash confidence and inner-city toughness to go along with a high-IQ and mature skillset.
“The move to Lithuania was a big change for me basketball-wise,” said Gudavicius. “They break things down to the absolute basics and drill on the most important skills that make great all-around players. It helped me to mature and really understand the game.”
He didn’t just learn lessons on the floor during his time overseas, he was also forced to adjust off the court.
“I had to learn how to practice, play and live like a professional,” he said, referring to his time with two different club teams. “Some guys find out that they don’t like the game when they’re in that situation. It made me realize how much I love the game and how much I’m willing to sacrifice to make the most out of my potential.”
The versatile Lithuanian is finishing up his prep career at Avon Old Farms for head coach Matt Mihalic, who’s entering his 3rd season with the program and is ecstatic for the opportunity to coach the fiery competitor.
“Two completely separate sources told me that I should be interested in Lukas while he was still in Lithuania,” said Mihalic. “A friend who coached Lukas' stepfather like 20 years ago told me he might be a good fit. Then another friend who scouts young talent in Europe hit me up with a breakdown of his skillset. That coincidence was a big deal to me. I wasn’t going to wait around for a third opinion!”
After receiving offers from Maryland, Utah State, Hofstra and Seton Hall during the 2021 NEPSAC College Showcase, Gudavicius’ recruitment has been steady.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to compete in NCAA-sanctioned Under Armour events while playing with NE-6, due to the fact that he hadn’t enrolled at AOF until the summer and was living in Lithuania prior to that time. Still, Gudavicius made the most of his opportunities this summer and separated himself from other 6’9” wings by showcasing his handle, making pinpoint passes and knocking down open 3’s.
Gudavicius has already drawn visits from staffs within the Big East, Big Ten, Atlantic-10 and American conferences this fall. Ohio, Vermont, UT-San Antonio and Florida International have all extended offers since mid-July. With mid-to-high major options from programs on the East Coast to the picturesque hills of Utah, there will be plenty for him to see and hear over the next few months.
“I want to compete at the highest level possible but it’s also important to play for a coaching staff that uses my talents and puts me in a position to succeed,” said Gudavicius, when asked what he’s looking for during the recruiting process. “I feel like my skillset and work ethic will help me contribute on the court at any level.”
While Gudavicius comes equipped with that unmistakable Lithuanian-level of confidence, he openly admits that his off-court relationship with his future coaches will dictate his decision more than anything.
“The most important thing is my relationship with the coaches off the floor. I’m more comfortable and productive as a player when I can trust my coaches and teammates off the court,” he said. “It’s important to enjoy going out to dinner with the staff and creating a good atmosphere. I get my best results when I’m in that type of environment, so that’s what I’m trying to find.”
As he prepares for his first season of American basketball since middle school, Gudavicius isn’t letting the attention from college programs get in the way of his development as a player or his leadership as a teammate.
“Adjusting back to the American game has been a lot easier,” he said of transitioning to the faster pace where athleticism is valued more. “I like playing a little quicker, having more options as a passer and getting the ball up the floor in a hurry. It’s already helped me to improve in different ways.”
There’s no denying that Gudavicius’ quickness, shot mechanics and frame have improved since the summer. He’s also shown the ability to slow things down and process information offensively while operating as a primary ball-handler. He’s prepared to handle the recruiting process in a similar fashion.
“There isn’t one school that is ahead at this point,” said Gudavicius, when asked about who’s recruiting him the hardest. “I've communicated with UTSA, Florida International, Utah State, Georgetown and Tulane recently. Some of the schools who offered over the summer reach out too. I’m not in any rush to commit but I also know what I’m looking for and wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger if a program checked all the boxes.”
The patience to wait for the right opportunity to open up. The confidence to trust his vision and recognize the play that he’s supposed to make. The willingness to take responsibility for the outcome when it comes time to pull the trigger. The passion to keep fighting regardless of the results.
These are just a few of Lukas Gudavicius’ on-court strengths that will also help him when it comes time to make his college choice. Don’t be surprised when the results of that decision are successful too.