Augustas Marciulionis, a top international basketball prospect, commits to Saint Mary's

Top international basketball prospect Augustas Marciulionis has signed a letter of intent with the Saint Mary's Gaels, he told ESPN on Wednesday.

"The main reason was Saint Mary's ability to develop international guards and, of course, head coach Randy Bennett. I also heard a lot of great things about Saint Mary's, not only about the team, but the whole university community as well. As I know the community is very close knit and friendly, which is a big advantage for me coming from such a small country."

Marciulionis is the son of Naismith and FIBA hall of famer Sarunas Marciulionis, who played seven years in the NBA, averaging 18.9 points per game with the Golden State Warriors at his peak. He won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics with the Soviet Union, and bronze medals in 1992 and 1996 representing Lithuania.

The 19-year old point guard is considered arguably the top European recruit committing to the college route in the class of 2021, possessing significant experience at the international level both against professionals and with his national team.

"The idea of coming to the United States with the possibility to study and play basketball at a very high level was always in my mind. However, the past 5-6 months has been tough for me in finally deciding whether I want to go to the NCAA and to which college, but I knew inside that I might regret not giving myself a chance to play college basketball, about which I've only heard great things."

Marciulionis played on an amateur contract this season with Lietuvos Rytas in the Lithuanian first division and FIBA Champions League, starting 22 games against high-level European competition. He represented his home country at the FIBA level at the U16 and U18 European Championships in 2018 and 2019, and is slated to compete at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Latvia which tips in early July. He attended the NBA's Basketball Without Borders camps twice in 2019 and 2020.

Saint Mary's has had considerable success over the years recruiting internationally, and will likely need Marciulionis to be an immediate contributor after a disappointing season in which they finished seventh in the WCC with a 14-10 record. Marciulionis says the Gaels' track record with international point guards played a major role in his decision to commit to them.

"I know of alumni such as Patty Mills or Matthew Dellavedova who are both amazing players. Knowing the fact that such great point guards attended this college makes me think that I made the right decision, even though I think that my style of basketball differs from them quite a lot.

"I am not a guy who likes to talk about roles before even getting into the gym with my new teammates; I know what I am capable of, and I will do my best to do that in the NCAA for Coach Bennett and our team."

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.