"It's All About The Game"

Selected Metro Challenge 60 players, Pt. 2






Ron Bailey, Publisher

More talented guys from the Metro Challenge 60.


April 7, 2014 - We conclude our Metro Challenge 60 coverage with updates on three more players; one from the DMV, another attending school in Central Virginia and the third going to school in Maryland, but having been in the U.S. for less than a year.

Click here for Pt. 1.

Deividas Zemgulis - 6'6", 200 pound junior forward, St. Mary's Ryken (MD) - A native of Lithuania, Zemgulis arrived in America last June. He immediately went to work on and off the floor.

"I knew a little bit. I started learning English in eighth grade" revealed Zemgulis of addressing the language barrier. "The coaches taught me a lot of stuff. I wasn't good in English (initially)".

Interestingly enough Zemgulis indicated "Writing is way easier" and "Understanding speaking is way harder", before laughing. His teammates at Ryken assisted in his out-of-classroom learning, particularly with colloquial communication: "I just have to learn those slangs (laughter)...They taught me a lot".

The combination of teammates, coaches and studies has been helpful, as he shared "I'm fine now, and I get my grades straight and just work hard".

Anthony Smith, looking to make a play for his teammate.

Since arriving in the States, Deividas has also been learning the American game, including its speed and emphasis on getting to the cup, both of which are being adjusted to. Right now he's an excellent shooter, one with a quick release and impressive range.

Though he arrived in the U.S. a good shooter, it's not something Zemgulis has done for very long, since he started playing hoops around five years, initially "for fun" as "I didn't expect basketball to be my sport". Focusing on tickling the twine from deep started about two years ago.

Presently Davidson, Lehigh, Princeton and Penn State have shown interest in Zemgulis. On the circuit this year he is expected to play for Triple Threat, where being spotlighted will certainly increase those looks. So will development, which according to him shall entail "Ball handling, upper body - I'm lifting weights a lot - and speed".

Javin Montgomery - 6'8", 200 pound sophomore forward, St. Anne's Belefield (VA) - When you think of Montgomery, envision of player of height and length that will push the rock in fast break situations, attack the tin and can be active all over the court. Not only does he pass the eye test for a player, but in Metro Challenge 60 action proved himself one.

"I think I'm pretty versatile" he said of his game. "I guess as of right now, my skill set best suits me as a four, but I'm really working to expand my game so I can play both three and four".

After identifying "one of my strengths is being able to grab a ball and go", he opined "I think the biggest part of my game that needs work right now is my stroke. It needs a lot of work. I hope this summer I can get in the gym and get a lot of shots up".

How about getting stronger?

"As of right now, I'm really skinny" he said. "I'm going to hit the weight room. I'm looking forward to it".

That process has actually started now, at St. Anne's Belefield, with assistant coach Hurd, who has European professional experience. Montgomery said "I just do whatever he tells me to do". That includes working "On the bench, bike, agility ladder, anything".

Originally hailing from Nelson County, VA, Montgomery will hit the circuit with Team Takeover's 16u team. Presently "UVA, Florida State, Wake Forest and Indiana" are showing interest, while "UC-Davis has offered".

Anthony Smith - 6'8", 190 pound junior forward, Potomac (MD) - Smith is the type of guy that produces without being a focal point; he scores after getting the rock off glass, runs the floor, defends and blocks shots. Case in point are the 1.3 rejections Smith averaged in Challenge play, a mark tied for fifth event wide.

He's also the type of player that creates wins; Smith was key in Potomac winning a Maryland state crown this year, and his Challenge team going undefeated. "Everybody knew what to do, made the right pass and it clicked for us" he said of his Jarrett Jack, Challenge crew not losing. Anthony's comment indicates a willingness to play the right way, a strength of Smith's.

This summer, Smith is playing for Team Loaded DC, an experience he relishes, as there he's pushed hard. Expect this summer to be a breakout time for Anthony. He'll also use the time to improve on his jump shot's consistency, get stronger and work on separation moves.

Smith doesn't have any offers - yet - but relayed interest from Virginia Tech, UVA and others.

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