UPDATE: UE coach Marty Simmons confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the NCAA has granted big man Egidijus Mockevicius four years of eligibility.
The NCAA needed to see Mockevicius’ high school records, information from his former university in Lithuania and documentation from the Lithuanian national team before making its ruling.
“It’s been a long process to go through, and a lot of people deserve credit,” Simmons said. “To see that hard work come to fruition is exciting.”
Mockevicius has actually been participating in the Aces’ team workouts and drills while waiting to hear his fate.
The NCAA allows a 45-day grace period between a players’ signing and its ruling for them to participate in basketball activity. UE was approaching the end of that 45 days to where Mockevicius would have to become inactive.
“I think you’re always a little bit worried,” Simmons said. “We wanted to get it done the first day, but it’s a process. You give (the NCAA) a certain amount of information and then they want a little bit more. We were very confident from what we knew that we would get this resolved, but again there’s just a lot of factors involved.
“It’s just nice to see it come to an end.”
I’ll have a full story in Thursday’s paper as well as comments from Mockevicius on the blog later.
ORIGINAL: UE sports information director Bob Pristash said Wednesday that the NCAA has cleared big man Egidijus Mockevicius to play this season.
Coach Marty Simmons originally signed Mockevicius in late August, and the former Lithuanian national team player has since had to wait for the NCAA’s ruling before starting basketball activity with the team.
Simmons said he was “confident that it will be decided in a positive way” back when Mockevicius signed.
The coach will be available later, Pristash said, to discuss the NCAA’s ruling further. Among questions left to be answered: how many years Mockevicius, a former student at the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences, will be eligible.
Mockevicius, a 6-foot-10 center, played for championship Lithuanian national teams at the U18 and U19 levels. This past summer, he also helped the U20 team to a European Championship, averaging 7.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 17 minutes per game.
Mockevicius is the second Lithuanian big man on the Aces’ roster along with 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Rokas Cesnulevicius. He joined a five-man incoming recruiting class along with guard D.J. Balentine, swingman Adam Wing, forward/center David Howard and walk-on Mike Leazer.
“I think he’s a skilled guy,” Simmons said of Mockevicius in August. “He runs and has big hands. Again, he has the talent and skills to be a very good player. I just think, like an incoming guy from AAU, it’s just different when you get to Division I college basketball, especially in the Missouri Valley, with understanding the competition.
“Just how quickly he transitions is something we’ll have to follow.”
As with all men’s Division I programs, the Aces can start official practice on Friday.