Last year I unashamedly attended more 76ers home games than I care to admit. Watching our young team trying to take their first steps and falling down more times than Dwyane Wade in a Converse commercial, was my own insane form of stress release. Mercifully, I don't remember the specifics of many games, but there was a Suns game I went to to catch a glimpse of Goran Dragic (mostly I went to get a night away from my anatomy study group), that turned out to be more interesting than I thought.
The game was on a Tuesday evening or something, so as usual I arrived at the arena and took whatever seat I desired. Midway through the first quarter, one of the tallest young men I've ever seen and what I can only describe as his handler decide to take the seats next to mine. As the game continues I can't help but realize that the skinny giant does not speak much English. At some point Spencer Hawes succeeds to knock down a long 3-pointer to his absolute delight. The handler turns to me and asks me who the tall white guy who can shoot threes is. I spare him the wealth of knowledge I have about our beloved Spencer, and simply respond, "Spencer Hawes". He tells the giant who he is, and turns back to me and says that hes love the way he shoots for a big man. The handler turns out to be someone involved with Philly high school basketball, and the tall teenager he says is Georgios Papagiannis. I nod like I know who that is, and he tells me, "no really, you need to know who this kid is, gonna be a lottery pick". I had no idea how to even begin to spell his name, so there was no way to Google it even if I wanted to. I smiled politely like I believed him, and continued to watch Gerald Green light us up for 30.
About a week ago, I was out in the city and I met a friend of a friend who helps coach at a high school outside of Philly, and he mentioned something about a huge kid from Greece who plays for the Westtown School and is absolutely dominant. At that moment I flipped back to the Suns game and this strange man (who was more excited than anyone should be to see the Morris twins play) telling me to remember this Greek behemoth of a teenager. It all clicked. I asked my friend how to spell his name and quick Youtube'd a highlight video. I was a few drinks deep at the time, but I could have sworn I was watching some type of Dirk Nowitzki/Pau Gasol lovechild play the game of basketball.
ESPN has Georgios Papagiannas ranked 25th in the class of 2015. If you're not an Insider, they describe him as having an incredible combination of size and skill, soft touch, defensive stopper down low, handles well, nice hook shot, and has range all the way out to the 3 point line. He lacks lateral speed and an intensity for rebounding. I know a lot of these tall projects don't end up working out, but he is already superbly skilled for his age. I certainly will be keeping an eye out to see where Philly's Greek Freak decides to attend college (he has offers from Maryland, PSU, Temple, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers so far), and rooting for his success so I can proudly say that I was aware of his greatness well before most of the nation.
So there you have it, not only will I be able to tell my children that I once sat down and appreciated some Spencer Hawes 3-pointers with a 2016 NBA Draft lottery pick, but I also started Liberty Baller's prospect profiles two years in advance. You're welcome.