Incoming Freshman Savickaite Looking to Join LithuanianU18, U19 Teams

By: Robert Sampson - WKU Athletic Media Relations
By: Robert Sampson - WKU Athletic Media Relations

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Incoming Lady Topper Basketball freshman Ruta Savickaite will work with the Lithuania National Team this summer in hopes of making the 2013 U18 and U19 National teams for her home country. It would make the second consecutive year she would play with the U18 squad from Lithuania.

The U19 team will compete in the Girls World Youth Championship from July 18-28 in Klaipeda/Panevezys (Lithuania). Lithuania is paired with the United States, China and Mali in pool play. The U18 team will compete in the Junior Girls B Division Championship in Miskolc, Hungary from August 15-25. Lithuania is paired with Poland, Estonia, Israel and Norway. Lithuania will send the same group of players to both championships.

Savickaite is no stranger to the international game, gaining much experience in 2011 and 2012 with various levels of the Lithuania National Team system. In 2011, Savickaite played in the U16 European Championships (Division B). She averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds for Lithuania. In 2012, she played in the U18 European Championships (Division B), posting 1.0 points and 1.6 rebounds per contest. Her best showing on the international circuit was an 11 point performance against Germany on Aug. 17, 2011 in the U16 European Championships. She played a career high 24 minutes in the game. The president of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation is NBA legend Arvydas Sabonis.

The 6-foot-4 center spent her junior and senior years of her prep career at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Savickaite first came to Hamilton Heights in January 2012 and averaged 5.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in 17 games during her junior season. She averaged 7.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 steals in her final nine games of the season after adjusting to style of play, with three double-digit scoring games. Her team went to its fifth straight national Association of Christian Athletics national championship in 2011-12. In 2012-13, Savickaite helped lead the Lady Hawks to a 20-4 regular season record before losing in the NCAC Championships.

The incoming class for the 2013-14 season also includes 5-foot-10 combo guard Chanell Lockhart (Chicago, Ill.; Odessa College), 5-foot-5 guard Jasmine Crawford (St. Louis, Mo.; Chipola College), 6-foot-2 forward Bria Gaines (Glenwood, Ill.; Bloom Township HS), 6-foot forward Aleeya Harris (San Antonio, Texas; John Jay HS) and 5-foot-4 point guard Kierra Muhammad (Lexington, Ky.; Paul Laurence Dunbar HS).

In her first year as coach of the Lady Toppers, head coach Michelle Clark-Heard engineered one of the nation’s best turnarounds. She led WKU to 13 additional wins over the prior season, setting the Sun Belt Conference record for largest winning improvement. She also helped WKU to eight additional conference wins over the prior season, tying the league record. Following the regular season, she was named the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.

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