This Kid Has a Huge Upside - Star Potential!
Thanasis and Giannis began to play basketball casually together around 2003. As fate would have it, the two were spotted one day by Spyros Veliniatis, a coach from Filathlitikos academy who is an avid cycling enthusiast and happened to biking by their local basketball court. Veliniatis was immediately taken aback by the immense physical gifts the children displayed, and invited the two to join the academy, the only club in Athens that does not charge a membership fee to participate. Considering the family's financial background, this was fortunate.
Thanasis and Giannis enrolling in the academy coincided with the team progressing rapidly up the Greek minor league system, being promoted six times in ten years from the D regional division of Athens all the way up to A2, the second league of Greece. Filathlitikos now finds themselves on the doorstep of A1, the top league in Greece, as they are in first place with a 14-3 record more than halfway through the season.
Most of Filathlitikos's success has come thanks to the homegrown talent they developed and integrated onto their roster over the years, with head coach Takis Zivas coaching both the club's senior and U18 team since its inception 15 years ago. Many of the club's young players are the sons and daughters of immigrants from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Albania and Nigeria.
Thanks to the Adetokunbo's arrival, Greek basketball might have the most interesting prospect the country has seen in many years on their hands. Despite never having played for any of Greece's youth (U16, U18, U20) national teams in an official capacity, Giannis has drawn considerable interest as of late both in his home country and abroad, with eight NBA teams already having traveled to see him. An invitation to the senior national team is reportedly in the works for this summer, if his citizenship issues can be resolved of course.
After watching a considerable amount of film from his play in the second division and U18 league, we decided to take a trip out to Athens ourselves to see what all the fuss was about. It turned out to be very valuable use of our time.
Adetokunbo stands out first and foremost thanks to the tremendous physical profile he brings to the table, reminding somewhat of aNicolas BatumorThabo Sefoloshaon first glance. He has great size at 6-9, 196 pounds, to go along with a developed upper body and an overall terrific frame that should fill out considerably in time. His wingspan has reportedly been measured at 7-3, but perhaps most interesting is the size of his hands, as he's able to palm the ball like a grapefruit which helps him out considerably as a passer, ball-handler and finisher.