Baron Will Begin Pro Career in Lithuania

BUFFALO, N.Y.-Billy Baron hasn't been one to stay in the same place for a while. He began his collegiate playing career at Virginia, before transferring to Rhode Island and finally settling at Canisius College.

Now, he'll pack his bags and move to Lithuania.

The former Golden Griffin point guard has signed a contract with Lietuvos Rytas, the highest-ranked team in Lithuania and the fourth-ranked team in Europe.

"It's a great opportunity," the 23-year-old Baron said. "The team is one of the top teams in Europe, and I believe I'm the first American rookie to sign. It's really awesome to get an offer like this. It's such a great opportunity for myself."

Last season, Baron led the Griffins once again to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament. Along the way, he had been a top-five scorer in the nation –averaging 24.1 points per game – and was named MAAC Player of the Year.

His coach at Canisius couldn't be happier.

"This is obviously a tremendous opportunity for Billy as he takes the next steps in his basketball career," Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. "He has worked hard for the chance to play professional basketball. As his coach, I'm excited for him. As his father, I'm proud of what he has accomplished and how hard he has worked. This is great for Canisius basketball, the city of Buffalo and for college basketball all across Western New York."

Billy Baron checks in at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, and participated in the NBA Summer League with the Chicago Bulls and averaged 5.6 points per game. He could have tried his luck with an NBA team but took the safer option.

"I had some interest from NBA teams," he said. "I could have gone to training camp with one, but then this offer wouldn't be here. I had to look out for myself."

"If I perform well, teams will see."

The NBA could be an option for many years, he said.

Baron will have to adjust for two different reasons: not having his father as coach for the first time since 2011 and playing a different style game.

"It will be different," he said. "I'm not even sure if the coach speaks English, but my dad has given me the tools to succeed. It will be a learning curve, however."

"I think most of my teammates will speak English. It will be a slightly different game, but the basketball might be smoother honestly. I'm intrigued at the way they play. It will help me grow as a player."

Lietuvos Rytas, which plays in Vilnius, Lithuania, has helped many grow as basketball players. Notable alumni include former NBA players Darius Songaila, Sarunas Jasikevicius and current Toronto Raptors star Jonas Valanciunas.

And if all goes well, he may follow in their footsteps and pack his bags once again. ​


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