For freshman forward Paulius Satkus, basketball has been a journey. Every stop in his basketball career has helped turn him into the hardworking player that comes off the bench for JMU providing high energy and rebounding effort inside.
For Satkus, growing up in Lithuania, he started playing at an early age, which according to Paulius isn’t uncommon. “Basketball is like a religion in Lithuania, every young child tries to play.” Coming from a country that has produced so many talented players, Satkus was exposed to experienced coaching and talented competition at an early age. As Satkus continued to grow as a player his opportunities and exposure grew as well. His Lithuanian club team medaled in several international tournaments and was ranked among the top in the country.
Satkus enjoyed the opportunities to play and travel at the same time. “Basketball gave me opportunities to go to many countries. It was a great way to learn something about life too.” Paulius saw that basketball would continue to open doors and offer different experiences. One of those doors led him to Barking Abbey Academy in England where he helped lead his team to a Conference regular season title. But it also challenged him to grow as a person. “First four months were probably the hardest of my life. I had never left home for more than three weeks and then I get to England and everything is new and I don’t know anyone. It was different and interesting, but I adapted and learned something about myself and have become a better person.”
Satkus’ play continued to get him noticed, especially his hustle and knack for rebounding. In 2013, he was selected as a reserve on the 15-member squad for Lithuania’s Under-19 squad for the FIBA U19 World Championships. But it wasn’t just in Europe where Paulius gained some attention. “Coach (Rob) O’Driscoll flew (to London) last year and saw me play. He showed great interest in me and showed me pictures and videos (of JMU) and I liked it. From there I didn’t look anywhere else and fell in love from first sight.”
Satkus came to JMU and has continued to work on his game as he adjusts to the United States and the college game. He’s had to adjust to the talent level and the speed of the game, but he’s used it as a learning opportunity. While he has battled for minutes off the bench, Paulius continues to bring his hardwork and hustle that is a trademark of his game. His seven rebounds in 11 minutes against Sam Houston State showed the energy and impact that Satkus can make on the game.
As he continues to grow into his role, Satkus will be an important player of the bench for the Dukes. For Paulius, it’s just another day in his basketball journey and another opportunity to learn.