May 8, 2002
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Tulane University has signed Vytautas Tatarunas to a National Letter of Intent to play men's basketball for the 2002-2003 season, Tulane head coach Shawn Finney announced Wednesday.
Tatarunas is a 6-7, 242-pound four-man with the ability to step out and shoot the three-pointer. A native of Kaunas, Lithuania, Tatarunas has played for the past two years for Coach Walt Westbrook at Tidewater Academy in Wakefield, Va.
"Vy is an athletic forward that can play the three and the four," Finney said. "He is athletic around the rim and he can shoot the three; he will be a very versatile forward for us at Tulane. We're excited to add another big body who gives us depth both inside and outside."
As a senior, Tatarunas averaged 22.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game to go with three blocks and 2.5 assists, earning the Virginia Commonwealth Conference Player of the Year honor. He led Tidewater to back-to-back 20-win seasons, earning Independent School First Team All-State accolades as a junior and senior, while earning All-Tournament honors after leading the Warriors to the state semifinals in 2002.
"He played everywhere for us from 1 to 5, point guard to center," Westbrook said. "I think at Tulane he will be more on the wing. His range is unlimited, 30 feet and in. He is a unique individual in the fact that he can shoot the three, he can catch the ball in transition and make a move to score; and he can play with his back to the basket and drop step and dunk on you with no dribble. It is quite a combination."
Tatarunas' individual numbers were actually better his junior year as he averaged 24.5 points and 12 rebounds per game.
"We had nobody else average over 6.0 points per game and we were 22-6 [his junior year]," Westbrook continued. "We upgraded the schedule because of Vy coming back, but his teammates were much improved players this year."
Tatarunas has also represented Lithuania in international play.
Tulane closed the 2001-2002 season, its second under Finney, with a 14-15 record, a five-game improvement over the previous year. Tulane was the No. 12 seed in the Conference USA Tournament, but upended fifth-seeded Saint Louis in the first round before bowing out to NCAA Tournament participant Charlotte in the quarterfinals. The Green Wave graduates just one player, returning its entire starting lineup.