It didn’t take much for Nojus Indrusaitis to fall in love with basketball.
He watched his father play in a men’s league every week, and he competed against his older brother in pickup games from time to time. But then, in eighth grade, something clicked, and Indrusaitis realized he might be at a higher level than most kids his age.
“I feel like I had a little bit of a higher (basketball) IQ and I saw the game better than other kids,” Indrusaitis said.
Four years later, it isn’t only Indrusaitis who thinks he’s a step above some other players.
The 6-foot-5, 185-pound shooting guard out of Illinois — currently playing at Brewster Academy — is a four-star recruit, touted as the No. 1 player in Illinois, No. 16 shooting guard in the nation and the No. 83 player nationwide in the 2024 class, according to 247Sports Composite.
What allowed Indrusaitis to make the leap from being another high school baller to one of the best in the country?
“I feel like being consistent and being confident in your abilities,” Indrusaitis said. “You can work as many hours as you’d like, but if you’re not confident in what you’re doing and the work you put in, then it’s not going to show. That, and having good people around you.”
And it was Iowa State — located about five hours outside of Indrusaitis’ hometown — that secured the top prospect’s commitment.
Indrusaitis chooses Iowa State over Illinois, others
The Evergreen Park, Ill., native held offers from Iowa, Illinois and Marquette, among others. Iowa State was the second-last team to offer Indrusaitis, but less than six months later, the Cyclones secured a commitment from the top-100 prospect.
He was still in the decision process when the Cyclones offered him. In the months after, through conversations with Iowa State’s coaching staff and a visit to campus, he felt at home in Ames.
And although Iowa State is close to where he grew up, it was never about playing in the Midwest. Indrusaitis needed a college system where he could grow as a player and where he saw himself fitting with the program.
“I like the way they play,” Indrusaitis said. “Fast-paced and really active on defense, which would force me to pick up my defense and that would improve my game. And then I liked the environment too. It’s not small but it’s a quiet place and it’s a straight basketball school.”
International experience plays a part in Indrusaitis’ development
Basketball took Indrusaitis to a lot of places, primarily Lithuania, where his family is originally from. He won a gold medal with the Lithuanian national team at the 2022 FIBA U16 European Championship, and he earned All-Tournament Team honors at the event.
He competed for Lithuania again in the summer, this time at the U18 level, and averaged 13 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Indrusaitis spoke fondly of his time playing for his parents’ home country. He also learned from his time playing the European style of basketball, which he said differs from the style of play in the United States.
“It’s a different game, but I think it’s good to know two sides of basketball,” Indrusaitis said. “Over here, it’s a little more space and flashy. But over there, it’s half court, boxes, Xs and Os.”
Finishing his high school career at Brewster
Indrusaitis bounced between a couple of high schools during his prep career, but he will finish it off at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.
For the Iowa State commit, it was a decision based on growth. He’s already a top-100 recruit, but Indrusaitis feels that he can better prepare for college by competing against the best players in the country and learning from Brewster’s coaching staff.
Even as a top prospect, there is still room for Indrusaitis to grow, and he knows where he needs to improve his game before playing at the next level.
“(I want to) get tougher on defense. Getting steals or staying up front and being in the right place at the right time. And then just staying consistent with my jump shot. And being a great energy guy, a great leader this year, because I’m a senior, so that matters the most to me.”
Alyssa Hertel is the college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Get to know Iowa State men’s basketball signee Nojus Indrusaitis