Mighty Marius

Marquette's Grazulis earns Dream Team nod

Marquette's Marius Grazulis pulls in a rebound from Westwood's Blake Hewitt and teammate Liam Darr in the second quarter played at the Redmen gym on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — Marius Grazulis was a monster in the middle for the Marquette Senior High School boys basketball team.

Almost every team the Redmen faced found the 6-foot-10 senior center too much to handle.

He can easily drop in layups and grab rebounds away from opponents, but he can also hit shots from beyond the arc, making him a multitalented weapon for Marquette as he led the Redmen to their first district tournament title since 2013.

After averaging 18.7 points per game and shooting almost 40 percent from 3-point land, Grazulis was awarded a spot on the All-U.P. Dream Team Tuesday at the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association’s annual meeting.

Grazulis was joined on the team by Gladstone’s Reece Castor, Iron Mountain’s Foster Wonders and Marcus Johnson and Calumet’s Matt Ojala.

Wonders went on to win Division 1-2-3 Player of the Year and Mr. U.P. Basketball.

“I think Marius had kind of a chip on his shoulder from last year,” Marquette head coach Brad Nelson said. “I think he got Second Team, so he definitely wanted to come out and prove himself.

“Everybody knows about him and how good he is and things like that, but there’s a lot of games this year where he deferred to other people. Obviously, a lot of attention was given to him and he was able to find the open man and that’s part of the reason why we were successful.

“Overall, I think he’s one of the best big kids that the U.P. has ever seen.”

When asked what sets Grazulis apart from other centers in the U.P., Nelson said it’s his ability to knock down treys when he needs to, a quality that is becoming more essential for bigger players to have success at the next level.

“He’s just an outstanding 3-point shooter and the GLIAC schools are looking for tall kids like him that can pop out on the perimeter and bury 3s,” Nelson said. “I think he shot 40 percent from beyond the arc this year and that’s definitely the reason he’s going to college (at Grand Valley State).

“I don’t think he’s 17 yet, so he still has a lot of maturing to do physically and I think that’s going to make him one of the best players in the GLIAC in three or four years.”

Time will tell, but based on how much Grazulis has improved over the course of just one season, there’s a lot of potential that he could be one of the best big men in the arguably the toughest NCAA Division II conference in the country.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.