Last year’s Evansville Purple Aces finished third in a loaded Missouri Valley Conference thanks to strong outside shooting and good perimeter defense.
But they were among the nation’s worst in rebounding margin and blocked shots, and—in large part because of these deficiencies in the paint—the Aces once again ended the season with an early exit in a third-tier postseason tournament (this time the CBI).
Enter Egidijus Mockevicius (ay-gih-DEE-yoose mox-KEV-ih-chuss), a twenty-year-old center on the Lithuanian under-20 national team that just won the European Championship.
Mockevicius arrived in Evansville this weekend and registered for classes. Pending an NCAA review, he’ll suit for the Aces in November. The NCAA must also decide how many years of eligibility the young Lithuanian will have. (He is transferring from the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences.)
Coach Marty Simmons is confident that everything will work out in Mockevicius’s favor, and Evansville won’t have an Enes Kanter situation on its hands.
Mockevicius, who averaged 7.3 points and 5.1 rebounds for Lithuania and led the team in scoring in the European championship game, will join fellow Lithuanian Rokas Cesnulevicius in the UE front court.
Unlike Cesnulevicius, who was off major recruiting services’ radar, Mockevicius is a three-star prospect according to the International Basketball Scouting Service. Cesnulevicius, who played with Mockevicius when they were younger, was instrumental in bringing his countryman to southern Indiana.
The Lithuanian duo will split time with 6-8 sophomore Ryan Sawvell, who showed marked improvement in conference play last season and earned a spot on the Missouri Valley’s All-Newcomer Team.