It's not easy to find players above 2 meters that can play the point guard position but for some strange reason in Greece, not one of the most populated countries in Europe, they "grow on trees".
The first was Theodoros Papaloukas (born 1977) and not too long after him the world saw Dimitris Diamantidis (born 1980). Together they led Greece to the top of Europe with the 2005 EuroBasket gold medal.
|Linos Chrysikopoulos raised eyebrows last year already and was invited to the U18 All Star Game being staged durting EuroBasket in Katowice|
1992 is the year when Linos Chrysikopoulos was born, and he's here to continue the great legacy.
The Greek sensation was exposed to the eyes of youth European basketball fans already 2 years ago in the U16 European Championship held in Italy.
Here in Vilnius in the OMNITEL U18 European Championship Chrysikopoulos presented an advanced model of the tall talent who easily captured the eyes of talent hunters in 2008.
The official height lists him as 2.03m but it won't be a shock if he grew a bit since the last measurements, and his wingspan can't be overlooked.
The complete package arrives in a format of a tall guard who doesn't really have a position right now but is playing at least 4 of them - from point guard to power forward - with ease.
If even one year ago Chrysikopoulos was a great talent thanks to his size combined with ball handling, passing skills and great defense but still offensive tools that needs to be developed, here he shows an advanced version.
He scored in all 5 games in double-digits and in 3 of them at least 25.
He's probably the most versatile player in the competition and the fact that he's ranked top 7 in 14 different statistical categories including points (20.0 - 3rd), rebounds (9.0 - 4th) and blocked shots (2.6 - 2nd) talks by itself.
Yesterday against Italy he carried his team to win with 25 points and 13 rebounds while today versus Turkey he was the man behind the victory once again, this time with no less than 30 points, 13 rebounds and a big performance on defense with 8 blocks.
This generation of Greece isn't among the best as far as talent goes, and Chrysikopoulos is obviously the #1 target for his team as well as any opponent defense.
While Greece average a bit over 72 points per game, their man executor is responsible for 20 of them every night, which is almost 30% of the total.
"I think what made the big change in my game is the fact that I practice and play with seniors in the last 2 years," he tells talking about his time with powerhouse club Aris Thessaloniki.
Chrysikopoulos was born and raised on an Island in western Greece but after the U16 championship two years ago moved to Thessaloniki.
"The move from the island to the city helped me become more mature," and it shows in his game that even before seemed more responsible than a lot of senior players.
In the last months of the season the prospect had the honor of being coached under David Blatt, who won EuroBasket 2007 with the Russian team and took over Aris after the season started.
This experience also left a stamp on Chrysikopoulos.
|Chrysikopoulos had the opportunity to learn from one of the best - Russia Head Coach David Blatt|
"I learned a lot from coach Blatt. He helped me understand the game better, know how to move and find myself on the court."
Yet Blatt isn't the only positive effect on the upcoming star, as his coach in the U18 team George Vlassopoulos also earned praise from his pupil.
"He taught us that we must fight all the time, and that nothing is going to come easy for us unless we go out hard and try to take it," he shares the main idea behind the success of the Greek team here.
After securing the spot in the quarter-final round Chrysikopoulos is excited about the upcoming events.
"This is the first time for me in such an advanced stage," he says.
"In the two previous years we didn't make the quarter-final and now we have a chance to reach higher spots than before.
"I think Lithuania is the strongest team here, but Serbia and Russia are also very good and can do a lot of damage," he analyzes.
"Greece? I don't want to talk about us as favorites. We're working hard every game and try to win the game from team play and defense like coach is telling us."
If coach Vlassopoulos and Chrysikopoulos will continue the path they have walked so far, Greece could make big things here, but one thing is for sure - in the near future European basketball fans will be amazed once again how the rarity of tall point guards is happening in Greece as Linos will bring his game to the senior level.
He's the type of talent you just can't miss, and be sure that the humble and hard working character of the junior will keep his head on the ground, and his game on the way up.