One of the things I love about this community and group is that I get beaten to news. A lot. Like today: mmford10 put up a FanPost when I was away from the computer about Gilvydas Biruta, a 2010 basketball recruiting ex-target and Rutgers commitment, asking out of his LOI. This was actually the first place I learned about it, ironically. Funny how the world works sometimes. Just another reason to love you guys.
Moving on: if you're a casual recruiting fan, you might not know a lot about Biruta, who was on the Maryland radar for a relatively short amount of time. So let's catch up with Gil, shall we?
Maryland and Gary Williams came in contact with Biruta during the summer of 2009, when they watched him play AAU. He remained on the radar for a few months, though ultimately well in the background, until committing to Rutgers and Fred Hill in early December. Hill recently got into a "verbal confrontation" at a baseball game and is under investigation, which will probably lead to his termination. Biruta asked out of his letter of intent today in the wake of the controversy. That's not a guarantee of a release, but being released would be very likely if Hill is fired.
Biruta is a Lithuanian combo forward (read: tweener) with a very well-rounded game. He's not huge (6-8, somewhere between 220 and 240), but he's tough, strong, and aggressive. His biggest strength comes in his outside ability, which extends to the three point line and gives him the ability to draw defenders out to the perimeter. He won't blow anyone away with his athleticism, but it's not below-average - he runs the floor well and can finish with a dunk.
I've seen a little bit in the way of video, so don't consider this gospel, but his shooting form looked good (although he didn't look like he got a ton of lift) and he looked willing to take his man off the bounce, even though his dribbling was a little exaggerated and out of control.
His outside shot and overall toughness is a big appeal, but I do have my concerns, the biggest of which is finding a position for him. At 6-8 and somewhere around 230, he falls into the classic tweener area: a little big for a SF and a little small for a PF. Combined with his outside shot and ability to run the floor, he reminds me a lot of Landon Milbourne, an experiment that ended with mixed results (still loved Landon).
That said, there's a spot for him somewhere should Maryland go after him. The Terps needs a shooting threat, and he would provide one. It's not like they have a plethora of people that can adequately play the 4, too, so it's not like they're in a position to turn him down.
Here's my only problem with the situation, if I may proffer my own opinion into it: in a game of limited scholarships, is Biruta the best available at filling the needs Maryland has? He's probably not going to contribute a ton next year, so you have to look down the line and thus include the possibility of 2011 prospects, too. Is he worth limiting a moderately promising 2011 class or very promising 2012 class? I don't know the answer to that question, but he definitely doesn't fill the biggest need on the team (an athletic leaper at the 4) and instead moves into the role that Haukur Palsson already has filled: a 3/4 tweener with an outside shot.
Biruta's a good player and brings something to the table, but he seems a little superfluous at this point. Maryland could still make a run at him once he lands on the open market, and I would hold judgment on him and the decision at that point. If that doesn't happen, though, I won't be overly upset, and neither should you: Biruta's not the missing piece. That guy (*cough*Leslie*cough*) probably isn't happening.