01 November, 2022
21 May, 2023
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Rytas Win-ius: Lithuanians out to leave their mark

Rytas Vilnius have been one of the biggest forces in Lithuanian basketball for many years along with archrival Zalgiris Kaunas. They have won six domestic league titles - including last season for the first time since 2009-10. Rytas also have captured two Lithuanian cup crowns and two EuroCup trophies. Rytas are spending their third season in the Basketball Champions League, advancing to the Round of 16 in 2021-22. At the youth level, Rytas have won two U18 ANGT titles in 2012 and 2018 and reached the final in 2009. Now the Lithuanians will be out to take the first-ever YBCL trophy.

"We really waited for this youth international tournament, because Rytas have had this idea since joining Basketball Champions League, and now we are happy to see that it’s actually happening. It’s a really big step forward for the league and the clubs. It gives them extraordinary experience and provides an environment to test their youth strength on the international field with other young talents from different countries."

-  Mindaugas Noreika, Rytas Youth Program Manager


History of the Program | Domestic Success

Note about Rytas system: both the SKM (Sostines krepšinio mokykla) and VKM (Vilniaus krepšinio mokykla) basketball schools are a part of Rytas’ youth program.   

2016-17: VKM 3rd place
2017-18: VKM 1st place, SKM 3rd place
2018-19: SKM 1st place
2019-20: SKM 1st place, VKM 3rd place in regular season - season was stopped by Covid-19   
2020-21: SKM 1st place
2021-22: SKM 1st place

2016-17: SMKA 3rd place (later on SMKA connected with VKM school)
2017-18: VKM 1st, SKM 3rd
2018-19: SKM 3rd place
2019-20: VKM 1st place in regular season - season was stopped by Covid-19   
2020-21: SKM 2nd place
2021-22 SKM 1st place, VKM 3rd place - Rytas had four players on the Lithuania team that won the FIBA U16 European Championship 2022 - Kristupas Smirnov, Nedas Raupelis, Matas Buteliauskas, Steponas Zilakauskis

2016-17: VKM 1st place
2017-18: VKM 1st place
2018-19: VKM 1st place 
2019-20: SKM 2nd place in regular season - season was stopped by Covid-19   
2021-22: SKM 2 place

2017-18: VKM 1st place
2018-19: VKM 1st place
2019-20: VKM 2nd place in regular season - season was stopped by Covid-19
2020-21: SKM 1st place, VKM 3rd place 
2021-22: VKM 3rd place

- 4 times in a row SKM was named best boys basketball school in Lithuania (2019-2022)


Recent Youth Developments

A new youth training center opened in Vilnius in 2022 to host the first NBA Academy in Eastern Europe. The NBA Basketball School, which will be run by the Vilnius Basketball School, aims to provide the best facility for young basketball talents to develop. On top of the access to that facility, Rytas also have built a pyramid with three different teams for every league level - LKL, NKL and RKL - allowing for youngsters to play multiple levels.


YBCL Player to Watch

Nojus Kuliesa | 2005 | PG

Kuliesa will come to the tournament with a lot of experience at the high level. He played for Lithuania at the FIBA U16 European Challenger 2021 and averaged 2.2 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists. The 1.85 meter point guard then helped Lithuania reach the Semi-Finals of the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2022, averaging 1.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists. His best game was in the Quarter-Finals against Poland in which he collected 3 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Kuliesa is a good floor general and team player. He also shoots well from long range.


Program Alumni

Jonas Valanciunas | Martynas Gecevicius | Arturas Jomantas | Stepas Babrauskas | Eimantas Bendžius, Evaldas Kairys | Gytis Radzevicius | Margiris Normantas | Deividas Sirvydis | Marek Blazevic | Azuolas Tubelis | Augustas Marciulionis

Jonas Valanciunas came up in the Vilnius basketball ranks and started playing professionally at just 16 years old. He debuted with Rytas on the pro level at still 17 in 2010. He won the EuroCup Rising Star award in 2012 and was named to the All-EuroCup First Team, also winning the Lithuania LKL league MVP in 2012 - at 20 years of age. Valanciunas was selected fifth overall in the 2011 NBA Draft and debuted with the Toronto Raptors in October 2012. The FIBA European Young Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012, Valanciunas also helped Lithuania to the title at the FIBA U19 FIBA Basketball World Cup 2011, winning the MVP trophy.

Jonas Valanciunas, currently playing for the New Orleans Pelicans, in the 2022 edition of the FIBA EuroBasket.