Justė Jocytė, the Lithuanian international player, is making quite a big name for herself. The teenage phenomenon is only 15 years old and is just starting her basketball career. However, she has already reached the Lithuanian national team and is already a professional basketball player.
The Rise to the Professional Level for Justė Jocytė
The Lithuanian Women’s Basketball Team
Justė Jocytė made her mark known during the 2019 FIBA U-16 Women’s European Championship for Lithuania as a 13-year-old. In the tournament, according to FIBA, she averaged 19.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2 steals per game. Jocytė was also efficient from the floor. She averaged a field goal percentage of 46.2 percent, 52.1 percent in two-pointers and 34.3 percent from the three-point line.
Lastly, Jocytė averaged 81.8 percent at the free-throw line. She played a big role in Lithuania making their first-ever U-16 Women’s European Championship Final. This includes the semi-final game against France. In that game, she had a double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds and her team was +12 on the floor when Jocytė was playing. This is the most rebounds she had in the tournament, showing that she can step up in big situations. She also had three assists and two steals against France. As a result, Lithuania took the slim 54-51 win over France.
.@Musukrepsinis 🇱🇹 are heading to their first EVER #FIBAU16Europe Final 🙌 !
📺 https://t.co/jYE6crxRUN pic.twitter.com/hKUn2nWbUk
— FIBA (@FIBA) August 29, 2019
She also stepped up in the final against Russia scoring 33 points, which was her tournament-high. However, Lithuania would still lose in the final against Russia 83-77. Since she performed so well at the 2019 FIBA U-16 Women’s European Championship, it played a role for her to make the Lithuanian senior national team.
Senior National Team and the Tony Parker Adéquat Academy
Justė Jocytė would play her first game in the 2019 EuroBasket qualifications. In this game, Lithuania faced Albania. She scored four points, dished out three assists, and grabbed one rebound in just under 10 minutes of play. Lithuania would end up winning 108-43 against Albania.
This is what Lithuanian women’s national team coach Mantas Sernius said about Jocytė according to FIBA:
“It is a great pleasure to work with a basketball player like her. It’s every coach’s dream to have a player with such basketball IQ. We would be going through new plays in practice and she would execute without mistakes. Having a player who is 13-14 years old and can do that is great and that’s a big advantage of hers as a point guard.”
The coach also hinted in the article that Jocytė has a bright future with the Lithuanian national team. It was a huge and deserving honor for Jocytė, who, in the same article talked about the experience of playing with the senior national team:
“I’ve never played in front of so many people before and there was also the extra responsibility I felt about playing at the senior level with women – and not with girls.”
Success continues to follow Jocytė. In November 2019, she joined the Tony Parker Adéquat Academy according to the Tony Parker Adéquat Academy website. This is what Parker, a famous NBA player, who made several NBA All-Star Games and won four Larry O’Brien Trophies, said:
“I am very happy for the Tony Parker Adéquat Academy because it’s the first big signature. Juste is the most special player of her generation. It’s one of the reasons that I opened the Academy, to welcome the best prospects of their generation, evolve with young enthusiasts of all fields, and enrich each other.”
La jeune Lituanienne, Juste JOCYTE (13 ans, 1m84), a signé une convention de formation et rejoindra la Tony Parker Adéquat Academy d’ici quelques semaines
🇫🇷 ➡ https://t.co/EIn0EObEVW #TPAA
— TP Adéquat Academy (@TP_A_A) November 7, 2019
Playing at the Professional Level
Justė Jocytė would later join ASVEL Basket (located in Villeurbanne, a suburb of Lyon, France), which is owned by Parker. Her current head coach is the younger brother of Parker, T.J. (Terence Jonathan) Parker. The team was accepted into Euroleague for the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 Euroleague seasons.
The Euroleague has formally approved the inclusion of French basketball franchise LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne owned by former San Antonio Spurs point-guard Tony Parker for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 seasons.#MTNSportsExpress
— Sport Vision (@SportVisionNG) November 29, 2018
She has so far played three games for ASVEL Basket. Her first game was against VBW Arka Gdynia of Poland on Dec. 1, 2020, according to FIBA. ASVEL Basket would win that game 89-57. Jocytė’s first-ever points for ASVEL Basket occurred against ZVVZ USK Praska of the Czech Republic on Jan. 21 according to FIBA. ASVEL Basket would win that game 85-74. Her professional career is just beginning. While there are ups and downs in the future, it looks like she is a prodigy in the making.
Justė Jocytė Overview
Jocytė is only 15 years old and has already accomplished so much. Two-time WNBA champion with the Seattle Storm, Alysha Clark also plays for ASVEL Basket. This is what Clark said about Jocytė:
Yep! She plays here in Lyon with me too. She’s extremely poised and skilled!
— Alysha Clark (@Alysha_Clark) November 14, 2020
Clark will be a great mentor for Justė Jocytė in Lyon. There is also going to be a lot of pressure for Jocytė to perform at the highest level. Basketball is a very popular sport around the world. However, there are only a few countries that play basketball as the number one sport in the country like Lithuania. This is how Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated described the sport of basketball in Lithuania:
“Basketball is the only sport the 3.2 million Lithuanians truly care about—it is their second religion, after Catholicism—and their success is proportionately stunning.”
Still, Jocytė is only 15-years-old and should be given some time to grow. She will most likely become a major figure with the Lithuanian national team. One should also not rule out Justė Jocytė possibly carving out a successful career in the WNBA.