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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, May 4, 2002

'Bows land another Lithuanian

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

The line of Lithuanians will continue for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team.

And this one might be the best of the bunch.

Vaidotas Peciukas, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, signed a letter of intent yesterday to play for the Rainbow Warriors next season. He is originally from Lithuania, but played last season at Weatherford College in Texas.

Former 'Bows Nerijus Puida and Mindaugas Burneika also came to Hawai'i via the Lithuania-Weatherford route.

"Potentially, he could be better than Nerijus and Mindaugas," said Mark Osina, head coach at Weatherford. "He has more athletic ability, and is a better scorer."

Peciukas averaged around 23 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists as a freshman at Weatherford last season.

"Mostly, I like to run the floor and score on fast breaks," said Peciukas, who is 195 pounds. "But I also feel good about my shooting from outside."

Osina added: "He has a nose for scoring. He's probably best in transition, but he can step out and hit the 3."

Peciukas had one more year of junior college eligibility remaining, but opted to leave early. He will be listed as a sophomore at UH in the fall, and will have three seasons of eligibility.

"We're glad we got him now," UH head coach Riley Wallace said. "If he stayed one more year (at Weatherford), he would have been recruited big-time."

Oklahoma, Illinois, Florida and Clemson had expressed interest in Peciukas within the past month, when his intention to leave Weatherford early became public. However, his only official visit was to Hawai'i last month.

"After that (visit) I felt like Hawai'i was the best place for me," he said. "I liked all the players and the coaches and, plus, they needed a (shooting) guard."

Last season's leading scorer, shooting guard Predrag Savovic, is the only starter not returning from a 27-6 team.

Peciukas is the third recruit to sign with UH. The others are Jason Carter, a 5-10 guard from Barton County College in Kansas, and Dane Dmitrovic, a 6-10 forward from Slovenia.

The 'Bows have one more scholarship available, and are hoping to fill it with either 6-6 forward Emigijus Lukosius (another Lithuanian at Weatherford) or 6-5 guard Michael Kuebler from Clackamas (Ore.) Community College.