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We’re walking around the streets of Queens with Sunrise Christian Academy senior Matas Buzelis looking for someone to chat with. As we film an episode of “Man on the Street,” one of the questions is: If you had to give an 18-year-old in the NBA financial advice, what would it be?

Buzelis is just moments away from going pro himself. Last June, he announced that he would be going the G League route rather than attending college and plans on signing with the Ignite once he graduates high school. People around the city already recognize the 6-10 standout with an all-around game. They ask to take photos with him and offer advice, like putting his first big check into a savings account and making smart decisions. Buzelis smiles and nods while listening carefully to their words.

“I picked the G League because I’m trying to become a pro. That’s the end goal,” Buzelis tells SLAM. 

The SLAM Summer Classic alum was actually a swimmer before he really started playing basketball, competing in the 50-meter and 100-meter breaststroke. He told Pro Insight that swimming taught him how to “remain calm in the chaos,” and that will certainly come in handy over the next few months as he balances school and his senior season with all of the other obligations that come with going pro. Buzelis was just out in Salt Lake City to attend the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, and as he watched players in the League show out, he envisioned himself being out there and competing in the Skills Challenge.

“I think I’d win,” he says with a smile.

Buzelis started playing competitively in sixth grade, but it wasn’t until eighth grade that he really started taking it seriously. Sports run in the Buzelis family—both his mother, Kristina, and his father, Aidas, were professional basketball players in Lithuania before they immigrated to the States. His older sister, Sophia, is a midfield lacrosse player at Furman University, and his younger brother, Vincas, is a sophomore at Sunrise. The opportunity to finish his high school career playing alongside Vincas, as well as to suit up for one of the best high school programs in the country, were the main deciding factors in why Matas decided to transfer from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, NH, to Sunrise last year.

“When it comes to bonds, I mean, no one is closer than me and my little brother,” he says. “We’re really close. And playing with him—he brings the energy that every team needs.”

One of the biggest things Matas’ parents have taught him is how to stay humble, which says a lot when you meet him—the McDonald’s All-American is just as down to earth as he is dominant on the court. At the SLAM HQ, he was shooting around with the staff on the mini hoop in our lounge, knocking down nine shots in a row like it was nothing. In the photo studio, he was laughing and having fun while playing with a Beyblade that was left behind from our cover shoot with Jalen Brunson. 

When asked who he admired growing up, Buzelis lists LeBron James and Tracy McGrady. “I’d watch highlights of them, and then I’d try to go outside and recreate the same thing,” he says. “I’d say I took a little bit from [their games].”

Matas would describe himself as someone who can “play all five positions and do everything overall,” and that’s exactly why he’s one of the most highly anticipated young players headed to the G. He’s already connected with a few future Ignite teammates, including top prospect Scoot Henderson (who might not be there for much longer) and Leonard Miller. 

“I’m gonna go to the G League and impact the team and try to win as much as possible,” Buzelis says. “Also try to get drafted to the NBA at the same time.”

Portraits by Marcus Stevens.

The post Meet Matas Buzelis: the Sunrise Christian Academy Senior With an All-Around Game Headed to the G League Ignite appeared first on SLAM.