My first organized basketball experience, which included real uniforms, was at my church, Holy Trinity of Chicago. I quickly became the leading scorer on the 8th-grade team, and was often embarrassed when fans would yell “SHOOT!” every time I touched the ball.
I was recruited by two high schools (Weber and St. Patrick) to play basketball. After meeting legendary coach Max Kurland, and finding out that two fellow Greeks (Peter Bartzis and Gregg Petrakos) would also be playing there, my decision was an easy one. As a St. Patrick Shamrock, I played on a Sophomore team that was undefeated during the 1977-78 Season. Then, during my two years on the Varsity, our teams had a total of 7 losses, with only 2 my Senior year.
It was my great fortune to have been chosen to play on two AAU Teams that represented Chicago in the National Championship Tournament. The first team, in 1978, featured future NBA HOFer Isiah Thomas. Our team lost in the National Championship game played at Marshall University to a great West Virginia team.
Next, I was selected to join amateur teams which traveled the world, playing games in Taiwan, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Combining travel, culture, and basketball created a great “Experience Soup” for a young hoopster.
I then headed to Greencastle, Indiana to play at DePauw University. After school, I once again headed overseas to play a year of professional ball in Greece.