InsideMDSports: With help of Len, Terps to bring in Greek 7-footer Georgios Papagiannis for visit

Special to The Baltimore Sun

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Since coming over to the United States almost a year ago from his native Greece, Georgios Papagiannis has been, for the most part, a 7-foot-1 international man of mystery.

Playing alongside Maryland signee Jared Nickens, Papagiannis starred in high school at Westtown (Pa.) outside the Philadelphia suburbs. Together, the two of them led Westtown to its second Friends School League title in school history.

But Papagiannis, a consensus top-50 recruit, was shuttled in and out of games, shielded from speaking from the media. Nothing was known about the big man besides his on-court dominance. Now playing with Team Takeover, Papagiannis finally is able to speak out.

Papagiannis was in Bowie this weekend for the Super Team Showcase, his second time visiting the state of Maryland. The last time was on a snowy December weekend, during a high school tournament, the Bullis Holiday Classic.

It was a different-looking Papagiannis this time. After he easily poured in 12 points in a rout of Bmore's Finest, he followed the rest of the team outside for a team picture. He was seen laughing and carrying on with his teammates, guys like Franklin Howard and Josh Reaves. In short time, he's managed to fit right in.

"I've done two practices," Papagiannis said in very good English. "I missed the tournament in California, but I'm going to play in the next tournament in Dallas."

Papagiannis missed the first session of the Elite Youth Basketball League because of a rule stating that all players must finish a full year of high school in the states before competing. It's why, according to sources, many local Philadelphia and New Jersey Amateur Athletic Union programs backed off, allowing Team Takeover to obtain his services.

He'll be eligible and active this upcoming weekend in Dallas after serving his "suspension." He's looking forward to the opportunity to turn some heads, as many of the top scouting services still haven't had a chance to see him play.

"The EYBL is different from high school and the other tournaments we go to because it's faster. All the big names are there, so you improve yourself from that," Papagiannis told IMS. "It's a new experience for me."

Kansas, Virginia, West Virginia, Temple, Villanova, Georgetown, Miami, Pittsburgh and Maryland are all recruiting the big Greek right now. He's visited only Temple, for a game against Villanova, and Maryland so far. The biggest thing he noticed was the difference in strength and experience level from high school.

He also mentioned what he is looking for in a school.

"First, how's the basketball team," he said. "Then the campus, the academics and probably the weather, because I'm from Greece and the weather in Philly was a big difference for me."

Papagiannis noted the difference in weather from his first visit to Maryland and also said that he's probably going to visit against next year, this time as an official visitor. Maryland has been using Nickens, and a certain 7-1 NBA center, to recruit the talented post player.

"Yeah, I know about Alex Len," he said. "I've seen him play. I went to the Sixers game against the Phoenix Suns, so I saw him. Maryland sent me a letter with him, so they are using him as a tool."

Besides Maryland, Papagiannis doesn't have any other schools in mind to visit.

"I don't know yet," he said. "I want to play with Team Takeover and think about that after we're finished."

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