Thomas Dziagwa didn’t know it then, but the Oklahoma State basketball team’s thrilling victory over Iowa State in the 2020 Big 12 conference tournament would be his final game as a Cowboy. Since that game, Dziagwa has begun his professional basketball career with BC Dzukija (Zu-key-uh), a professional basketball team in Alytus (Uh-leet-us), Lithuania.
The O’Colly caught up with Dziagwa for a Q&A on Oct. 10.
Q: Where are you living in Alytus? Is it an upgrade from your place in Stillwater?
A: “I live in an apartment about a seven-minute walk from the gym. It’s a solid apartment, it has a room, a living room, and a kitchen. Being a college athlete at a Power Five school, especially a prestigious Power Five school like Oklahoma State, you’re treated like royalty. Sometimes guys came back and told younger players they didn’t know how good they got it. I can attest to that.”
Q: Has it been tough adjusting to life where not as many people are surrounding waiting to help you?
A: “Not necessarily, it hasn’t been that tough. I’m a decent chef so I know my way around the kitchen. My parents have helped groom me on how to cook and my girlfriend taught me some tricks in the kitchen to chef it up so cooking and providing for myself like that is easy.”
Q: What’s your go-to dish to make in Lithuania?
A: “Oh man, that’s a great question. My girlfriend and I, we made tacos a lot when I was in Stillwater because she had some special recipe when it comes to tacos and they’re amazing. I think my go-to dish now is going to be tacos and fajitas. The other day, I made ground turkey tacos and I used the recipe my girlfriend gave me. I made fajitas and man, I knocked them out of the park, so I think my go-to dish now is going to be fajitas and tacos.”
Q: What’s the weirdest food you’ve tried or maybe seen but didn’t want to try?
A: “I think my tastebuds have been changing while I’ve been over here because the food in Lithuania is great. The most unique food that I’ve had though is cold soup, it’s like pink. I don’t know how to pronounce the name of it, but it’s a pink cold soup and surprisingly it’s pretty good actually.”
Q: Are you still keeping up with OSU sports?
A: “Of course, of course. I only see the stats and the highlights but I’m happy anytime Oklahoma State gets a W.”
Q: Do you think you’ll be able to catch an OSU basketball game this season?
A: “I don’t know, since my season will be going on over here (In Lithuania) I don’t know If I’ll be able to be there in person, however, I will be watching, I will be supporting all the way over here in Lithuania and on Friday, you best believe I’ll be wearing my orange.”
Q: Have you seen anyone in Lithuania wearing an OSU logo?
A: “I’m the only OSU supporter out in town.”
Q: Why did you start a blog about your time in Lithuania?
A: “You know, I don’t really know what prompted me to start it. The message behind ‘Say Thnks’ really, it was just I’ve met a lot of really great people in my short 22 years of life and I’ve seen a lot of things and traveled a good amount, and it’s all been because of how great God is. I don’t know, maybe one day when I have kids and everything they can go back and read the blog and see what it was like to live in a foreign country at 22 and play basketball overseas.”
(Dziagwa’s blog can be found at saythnks.com)
Q: Have you met many people over there?
A: “I hang out a lot with the teammates. My teammates are amazing, they are great, heartwarming people, they help me when I need help like with the language barrier and stuff like that. I’ve gone to two of the churches here and I’ve tried to talk to some of the people at the church and get plugged into the community outside of basketball, so that’s been good as well.”
Q: What have American and local holidays been like in Lithuania?
A: “I’ve been in Lithuania for a month and about a week right now. I had to quarantine for the first two weeks, so I’ve been out and about for closing in on a month. When I went to the mall today in the capital (Vilnius), I actually saw a store that was selling Halloween stuff, skulls and pumpkins and stuff like that. I was actually like, ‘Oh wow, they celebrate Halloween here, I wonder what it’s like compared to the states.’ Halloween is the first big, big holiday that is coming up in America and I guess Lithuania celebrates it too, so I’m really interested to see how that is.”
Q: Take me into BC Dzukija’s season. How has it been going for you?
A: “Well right now we’re 1-4, but three losses we have are all versus the top three teams in the league. Our record doesn’t really show how good we are cause we’ve lost to the teams that are top in the league. It’s still a fairly early season, I think this ball club is good, I think we have a chance to make the playoffs and stuff like that but again it’s still early, we’re still gelling and learning how to play with one another.”
Q: What changes from playing in the Big 12 to playing against professional basketball players?
A: “Some of my teammates are like 35-36, so their basketball IQ is very high from playing basketball for so long. I have a teammate who has been playing professional basketball for 20 years and I’m 22 (years old) so he’s been playing professional basketball for almost as long as I’ve been alive. Guys have been playing for so long and they know the style of play and stuff like that, and there’s some grown man strength out here.”
Q: What’s the best part about living in Lithuania?
A: “The best part about living in Lithuania is meeting people from different walks of life who view the world differently. It’s helped me open up my eyes and just look at the world differently. I get the opportunity to meet new people and to build relationships that will last a very long time.”
Q: What’s the hardest or worst part about living in Lithuania?
A: “There’s no worst part. The hardest part would be being away from your loved ones physically. In today’s day and age, you can facetime and talk and text which is all great and everything but sometimes just hugging a loved one and enjoying a nice meal with sometime who you cherish (is irreplaceable).”
Q: Does Alytus feel like home?
A: “That’s an interesting question. I think it’s a little too early to tell, but I will say that I’m enjoying my time here. I don’t know if I would call it home yet, but I’m going to throw in the yet because I’ve only been out and about for 25 days. I’m making it feel more like home every day.”