Lithuanian Sargiunas signs with Bulldogs
ATHENS, Ga. — Ignas Sargiunas, a 6-5, 180-pound combo guard from Kaunas, Lithuania, has signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball for the Georgia Bulldogs, Coach Tom Crean announced on Thursday Sargiunas will join the Bulldogs in the fall as a freshman.
“We are very pleased that Ignas will be joining our program,” Crean said. “As a combo guard, his versatility will help us greatly on both ends of the floor. Watching him play and develop, we have seen that he has great touch as a shooter, he has excellent ball-handling skills, and he provides solid defensive work, not to mention that he plays with poise and can be a vocal leader. His international experience will add a special dynamic to our team. He has proven that he’s a winner, and we’re happy that he has decided to be a Bulldog.”
Sargiunas has been a major contributor to Lithuanian age-group national teams over the past three years and currently plays for Zalgiris II Kaunas in Lithuania’s NKL.
Most notably, Sargiunas averaged a team-high 13.0 points for Lithuania en route to a bronze medal at the 2017 U17 World Championships in Zaragoza, Spain. He scored in double digits in five of seven outings, headlined by a team-high 15 points against the United States in the semifinal round. Sargiunas did so against a U.S. roster featuring six players entering the 2018 NBA Draft (Wendell Carter Jr., Troy Brown Jr., Jaren Jackson Jr., Kevin Knox II, Collin Sexton and Gary Trent Jr.).
Sargiunas also helped Lithuania claim a gold medal at the 2015 U16 European Championships, a silver medal at the 2016 U18 European Championships and a bronze medal at the 2017 U18 Euros.
Sargiunas has averaged double digits for Zalgiris II during each of the past two seasons competing in the NKL, Lithuania’s second division. In 2016-17, he averaged 10.0 points, 2.7 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 0.9 steals to help Zalgiris II finish 23-15 and advance to the quarterfinals of the NKL Play-Offs. This past season, he averaged 10.5 points, 2.7 assists, 2.0 boards and 0.8 steals as Zalgiris II compiled a 20-18 record and finished runners-up in the NKL Play-Offs.
Sargiunas will become the fourth freshman on the Bulldogs’ 2018-19 roster. Last fall, Georgia signed Amanze Ngumezi, a 6-9, 235-pound power forward from Johnson High School in Savannah, Ga., and JoJo Toppin, a 6-6, 180-pound small forward from Norcross High School. Earlier this spring, Tye Fagan, a 6-3, 170-pound combo guard from Upson-Lee High School in Thomaston, Ga., inked papers to join the Bulldogs.
That quartet will join a squad with three starters and 11 total letter winners back from last season. Seniors William “Turtle” Jackson and Derek Ogbiede and sophomore Rayshaun Hammonds will return, as will six additional letter winners with starting experience – seniors Mike Edwards and E’Torrion Wilridge, juniors Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris and sophomores Nicolas Claxton and Teshaun Hightower.
The 2018-19 campaign will be Georgia’s first under Crean, who has averaged 20 wins over 18 combined seasons at Marquette and Indiana. Crean’s teams have reached postseason play 13 times, including nine NCAA Tournament bids and an appearance in the 2003 Final Four.
The Georgia Bulldog Club’s 2018-19 Basketball Enhancement Fund (BEF) campaign is currently underway and runs through Aug. 1. Fans who are renewing or interested in making new contributions in support of Georgia Men’s Basketball can visit georgiadogs.com/bef18 or contact The Georgia Bulldog Club by phone at 877-423-2947.
BEF contributions help provide essential support for student-athlete scholarships, academic support, training and nutrition, travel assistance, recruiting, and equipment upgrades. BEF donors enjoy access to exclusive men’s basketball benefits including renewable season tickets, game day parking and hospitality, postseason ticket request opportunities, an invitation to watch team practice along with a postseason team banquet invite. The minimum donation requirement to qualify for renewable season tickets is $150 per seat. The Georgia Bulldog Club encourages fans to help make an impact by making a new contribution, giving 110 percent or upgrading your membership to the next level for the 2018-19 season.