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"Where are they now?" Duke basketball edition: Martynas Pocius

The Blue Zone will be running a summer series bringing you the latest on some of Duke basketball’s former stars. This week, The Blue Zone takes a look at Martynas Pocius.

Unlike the other Duke alumni we've covered this summer—DeMarcus NelsonDaniel Ewing and Shelden Williams—Martynas Pocius was not a star as a Blue Devil. In four seasons in Durham, Pocius never averaged more than 8.0 minutes per game, achieving a mark that high only during his injury-shortened junior season.

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The Marty Pocius story doesn't start with his arrival in Durham, however. At age 13 Pocius suffered an injury that very well should have ended his basketball career before it even began. Pocius had an accident with a grinder in school, leading to the partial amputation of three fingers on his left hand. While surgery was successful in attaching two of the fingers, today Pocius still doesn't have the middle finger on his left hand.

Injuries continued to define Pocius' basketball life during his time at Duke. The Lithuanian guard battled through ankle injuries throughout his sophomore season, missing four games due to the ailment. The ankle woes didn't subside during the offseason, and Pocius suffered a season-ending ankle injury after just four games in his junior season. Pocius played out his senior season, but averaged just 1.5 points and 6.1 minutes per game in 22 games.

Without the benefit of a storied collegiate career, Pocius did not get a sniff from NBA teams following his time at Duke. Instead, the 6-foot-5 wing returned home and joined Zalgiris Kaunas in his native Lithuania. During his rookie season, Pocius made a name for himself in Euroleague play, averaging 8.1 points for Zalgiris. The Lithuanian national team took note of Pocius' play and he was added to the 2010 FIBA World Championship team. Pocius averaged 9.6 points and 2.6 rebounds for Lithuania and helped lead his team to a surprising bronze-medal finish.

Pocius' second season with Zalgiris was even better than his first, where he upped his scoring output to 11.3 points per game in Euroleague games. Pocius missed the end of Zalgiris' season with another injury, this time to his back. Pocius suffered a fracture in his spine that resulted in a pinched nerve. Surgery left him bedridden throughout the Zalgiris postseason.

Luckily for Pocius, his back cooperated with him and healed in time for a return to international play for the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament, where he finished second on the national team behind Toronto Raptors forward Linas Kleiza by averaging 11.5 points per game—shooting 50 percent from long distance.

After his two years with Zalgiris, Pocius exercised his opt-out and was pursued heavily by many of Europe's top teams. He eventually signed a multi-year deal with Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid. Pocius' first season with Real Madrid was a perplexing one. The guard played considerably better in Euroleague play as opposed to the Spanish League, averaging 2.5 more points in the former.

Again, Pocius spent the 2012 offseason playing for his country, donning the Lithuania jersey in London for the Olympics. Pocius flashed his talent on the international stage again, scoring 7.2 points and accumulating more than two rebounds and assists per game.

This season, Pocius was again playing for a stacked Real Madrid team, consisting of most of the Spanish national team, including former NBA players Sergio Rodriguez and Rudy Fernandez, Spanish star Sergio Llull, and prized future Chicago Bull Nikola Mirotic. Again, Pocius' season was derailed by injuries. Pocius limped through much of the season with another ankle injury, later diagnosed as a stress fracture. He averaged just 4.5 points over 27 injury-marred games. Pocius will be a free agent at the end of the season.


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