On Saturday, I traveled down to the Philadelphia suburb of Rosemont to see Maryland 2014 commits Jared Nickens (Westtown School) and Trayvon Reed (Life Center Academy). Westtown (PA) was facing Life Center Academy (NJ) in the Kobe Bryant Classic, which pitted the two future Terrapin teammates against one another. I did some scouting of Nickens and Reed, along with 2015 targets Georgios Papagiannis (C, Westtown) and Malik Ellison (G, Life Center Academy). I’ll have a scouting report on Malik Ellison in the coming days. Next up on the list of Maryland targets is Papagiannis.
Athletic seven-footers don’t exactly grow on trees.
Maryland was very fortunate to find a Ukrainian gem in center Alex Len. Could Westtown School center Georgios Papagiannis be in a similar mold?
It’s definitely a possibility.
When you first glance at Papagiannis on the floor, it’s not hard to see his commanding presence. The Greek prospect may only be 16, but he knows what to do on the basketball court.
Many seven-footers don’t have a ton of athleticism and aren’t very quick. Papagiannis does not fit that profile.
For example, Westtown was running a fast break and Papagiannis had the ball in his hands beyond the three-point line. Instead of dishing it off to a teammate, he drove against a Life Center Academy guard and got to the rim with ease and converted a beautiful layup. It’s the type of play that you expect a guard to make, but not a 7’1 center. It’s also not the first time that he’s made such a play, which makes it that much more impressive.
As seemed to be the case with Maryland commits Jared Nickens and Trayvon Reed, Papagiannis played better as the game went on, especially in the second half. The Greek import finished the contest with 15 points, nine rebounds, and a whopping five rejections.
Papagiannis has a very commanding presence in the paint. Many of Life Center Academy’s quicker guards attempted to challenge the Westtown big man and attack the basket. It didn’t end well for those brave souls. Papagiannis swatted shot after shot with extreme precision and enthusiasm.
He’s also a very strong rebounder, which isn’t surprising given his large frame. Papagiannis can get great position in the post and have his way with his opponents.
His offense is where Papagiannis seems the most impressive. The Greek native knows what to do when he catches the ball in the low post. He has nice form on his hook shot, despite missing a few of them during this game. Over the course of the season, Papagiannis has connected on several hook shots, which is evident in his highlight tapes.
Papagiannis is also a very athletic center. The Westtown star really excelled in the second half and caught a few alley oops from his teammates. He threw down those dunks with authority and did so with extreme passion. Papagiannis clearly loves the game of basketball and his potential is unlimited from an offensive aspect.
One of the most underrated qualities about Papagiannis is his ability to pass the basketball. Most big men aren’t known for their ability to be able to dish the rock. However, that isn’t the case for Papagiannis.
The Westtown center faces double teams in the post quite often and doesn’t seem flustered as he can pass the ball back out to the perimeter without hesitation. Papagiannis also throws a nice bounce pass, which is not an easy thing to do.
Papagiannis doesn’t currently have any offers, but Maryland and Kansas are both very interested in him. If he keeps up his torrid pace, he’ll have every major Division I powerhouse in the nation offering him.
Before he even plays at the collegiate level, Papagiannis is already ahead of where Len was at this stage of his career. Len, who was drafted sixth overall by the Phoenix Suns in last June’s NBA Draft, had a difficult time adjusting to the speed of the American game as a freshman. On the other hand, Papagiannis is excelling playing the American style of the game and looks very polished for a 16-year old kid.
With playing time at a national prep power like Westtown, Papagiannis will continue to work on his game and be a talented specimen when he steps foot on a collegiate campus in the fall of 2015. If he continues to improve at this torrid pace, he could have every major Division I power offering him by the time his senior year rolls around.