The Michigan Wolverines forward Ignas Brazdeikis would welcome an opportunity to become a Lithuanian citizen and possibly put on the national team jersey as well.
“It would be great to represent my country, Lithuania. If I received a dual citizenship, it would open many doors to me and my family”, the 20-year-old player told basketnews.lt.
Iggy Brazdeikis, as he is known in Canada and the USA, was born in Kaunas, Lithuania, but his parents went to the United States (Chicago) when he was just two years old.
After switching place of residence several times, his family finally settled in Canada in Oakville which is near Toronto.
Brazdeikis has some basketball roots in his family, as his second aunt, Lina Brazdeikyte, won the 1997 EuroBasket Women with the Lithuania women’s national team.
Brazdeikis won the silver medal with Team Canada at the 2015 FIBA Americas U-16 Championship, averaging 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds a game. He also played for Canada at the 2016 FIBA U-17 World Championship, averaging 14.7 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.
After graduating from highschool, Iggy followed the footsteps of Nik Stauskas, a fellow Lithuanian-Canadian, whose name in the past has been in consideration for the national team but never got real traction.
In his debut season for the Wolverines Brazdeikis is averaging 15.9 points and 5.4 rebounds. His performances are attracting the interest of many NBA scouts. As of now, he is projected to be drafted in the end of the first round of the NBA Draft 2019.
Understandably, Brazdeikis also attracted the interest of Lithuanian Basketball Federation, who is reportedly in contact with his family.
Though in order to be eligible for the Lithuanian national team, Brazdeikis would not only have to get permit from FIBA and the Canadian Basketball Federation but also obtain the Lithuanian citizenship which might be the biggest issue.
Dual citizenship is strictly limited under Lithuanian laws and it would be rather difficult for Brazdeikis to obtain it. He might try getting it by exception which allows giving Lithuanian citizenship to people who contribute significantly to Lithuania’s statehood.
Based on Lithuanian laws, if a citizen receives a citizenship from another country, he automatically loses the Lithuanian one. That was the case with Bazdeikis as well. The most famous case is that of Zydrunas Ilgauskas who accepted the American citizenship at the end of his basketball career.
It remains to be seen whether the Lithuanian Basketball Federation will at least try to take any steps in order to make Brazdeikis eligible for the national team. A lot will depend on what is the progress of the player himself and whether his desire to represent his home country will still be there.