ONE of Europe’s top basketball players has joined the University of Worcester’s masters programme.

Linas Kleiza, who stars for Greek club Olympiakos after leaving NBA team Denver Nuggets in a multi-million dollar deal, has signed up to the first MSc in European Basketball Coaching at Worcester.

The two-year course, en-dorsed by the Federation for International Basketball in Europe (FIBA Europe), involves teaching in Worcester and Lithuania.

It will enable potential students, who may be coaches and players, to participate in lectures and seminars during the middle and end of the playing season, while online classes and tutorials will be available throughout the year.

The unique masters degree has been created by the University of Worcester and the Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education (LAPE) in collaboration with the Lithuanian Basketball Federation.

Mick Donovan, head of the institute of sport and exercise science at the university, said: “Linas is exactly the type of person who this course has been designed for. I’m sure that he will make a major contribution while also developing as a student.

“It will be interesting to see how our students interact in the seminars and the ongoing discussions should be enlightening.” Mr Kleiza said: “My main commitment is clearly to basketball but the opportunity to study on such an exciting course is very attractive. To gain a masters degree would be very rewarding.

“It will open many doors when I do finish playing. It will also be interesting to reflect in an academic setting upon my own experiences in the game which I love so much.”

Mr Kleiza played college basketball with the University of Missouri Tigers and was drafted to the Portland Trailblazers before joining Denver.

He is currently the leading scorer in the Euroleague with Olympiakos.

He played for the senior Lithuanian national team at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and won a bronze medal at the 2007 FIBA European Championship.

He also represented Lithuania at the 2008 Olympics.

The University of Worcester has a strong basketball reputation.

Both the men’s and women’s sides are the British Universities champions and the university has a partnership with Worcester Wolves, who play in the British Basketball League.