Four-star Westtown School (N.J.) center and high-profile Maryland prospect Georgios Papagiannis has signed a contract to play in his home country of Greece, skipping his last season of high school basketball in the States. Sportando tweeted early Wednesday morning that the highly touted prospect had signed with Panathinaikos, one of the top clubs in the nation.
This makes things more than a bit uncertain for the Terps, who had been one of the teams recruiting Papagiannis the hardest and had a connection with Terrapin signee (and former Westtown player) Jared Nickens. They'll continue to recruit him in Europe (it's not like they've had trouble bringing in kids from across the pond before), but distance could possibly play make it a bit harder. Kansas, Penn State and Temple have been among the other schools recruiting the prospect.
The decision reportedly does not rule out Papagiannis from returning to the United States to play college ball, as Eurohoops explains.
Papagiannis was playing last season for Westtown School in Pennsylvania and he is already mentioned as a possible lottery pick in the 2016 NBA draft due to his combination of skills and height (2.17 m.). That's why in his contract there's also an opt out clause for the summers of 2015 and 2016. Since he is underage, he can keep his amateur status and try playing in the NCAA in the 2015-16 season. For the 2014-15 season he will have an amateur athlete license which will not belong to Panathinaikos BC, but to Panathinaikos amateur sport club, the entity from which every pro team emerged, according to Greek legislation.
We'll keep you up-to-date as the Papagiannis story unfolds, as well as Maryland's continual efforts to land a commitment in the class of 2015.