Selected with the No.8 overall pick in June’s NBA draft, 20 year old, former Michigan guard Nik Stauskas signs his NBA rookie contract with the Sacramento Kings this week.
Below is an open letter from Stauskas’ parents in regards to their son’s great success:
Nik’s first experience in basketball was unforgettable – it was at a LAUNA tournament when he was only 6 years old, and he was a last minute addition to the Ausra Molecules team. He enjoyed it so much that he announced to us that he wanted to continue playing and join the team permanently. This is how Nik’s career in basketball began.
By the time he was 8 years old, he clearly stated to everyone that his goal was to play in the NBA. Everyone who knew him growing up could see the passion and dedication that he had to perfecting his game. He spent countless hours per day working on his game – first on our driveway where we had a hoop installed. By the time Nikolas was 10, we built a half-court in our backyard….then, Nikolas literally lived his days and evenings on that court. It didn’t matter if it was hot, raining, freezing or snowing – he would be out there working on his shooting and dribbling. We eventually installed lights so that he could continue playing in the dark, and had heaters for him in the winter months.
After years of playing rep league basketball first for “Toronto Five-O” under coach Vic Simkus, then the “Mississauga Monarchs”, and summer AAU tournaments with “Grassroots Canada”, Nik decided that he needed to take his game to the US. He decided to go to a prep high school in the US at the age of 15. It was a big decision, but we see now that this was a decision that likely changed his life. As a result of playing there for 3 years, he was able to secure a full athletic scholarship to the University of Michigan. Nikolas spent 2 years at Michigan, and in his second year was the leading scorer on the team, won the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, in addition to being named to the NCAA All America First Team.
It was a big decision to declare for the NBA Draft, and it was not taken lightly by Nikolas or our family. We had many, many discussions over a few weeks. But finally, our decision was made and he declared himself for the 2014 Draft. Our whole family went to New York City for the big night on June 26th. You can never know for sure where a player will end up – you just wait to hear his name called by the Commissioner of the NBA. It is hard to describe the feelings we had when the Commissioner announced that “the Sacremento Kings select Nik Stauskas” and he was the 8th pick in the draft. It was a dream come true for Nikolas! And we were filled with pride watching him go up on stage, knowing that he has achieved what he set out to do at the young age of 8.
As parents, we supported his dream of being in the NBA, however, we had always been realistic with Nikolas, indicating that the chances of making it were very slim. As a result, we wanted him to value his education and have alternative plans for his life. Now, he will have to put his education on hold and focus on the next stage of his life. To have him in the NBA now at 20 years old has shown us what Nikolas is capable of doing with all of his hard work and dedication. The sky is the limit for Nikolas, and we look forward to watching him blossom in Sacramento, California!
We thank all of our family, friends and the broad Lithuanian community for their support of Nikolas over the years!
Paul and Ruta Stauskas
Asked for his comments on Nic’s recent success, former coach Vic Simkus:
Proud to say the least! The fact that Nik is a successful basketball player is impressive but his success only scratches the surface of his character as a perfectionist with extraordinary potential. Nik is a bona fide competitor who realizes that hard work translates into positive results. I feel that Nik will continue to work and strive to become the best possible teammate he can.
Lithuanians in Canada are all thrilled for Nik and we all congratulate his parents Rūta (Meiklejohn) and Paul Stauskas.
(photo taken from NBA.com)