When Jimmy Sotos finished his junior year at Bucknell, he knew he had a decision to make. The point guard had one year left to play and would either spend a fourth year with the Bison or put his name in the transfer portal and hope to end his college basketball career with a high-major program.
Having performed well with Bucknell when the team played top competition, Sotos believed he would have an opportunity and decided to take his chances with the portal.
“I knew what decision I wanted to make,” Sotos told Bucknuts. “I knew I wanted to go somewhere where basketball was going to work out, where I have an opportunity to play a big role and help the team win.”
This is not to say Sotos had a poor experience at Bucknell. It was actually quite the opposite.
Growing up in a basketball home — his father played professionally in Greece for one year and his three older brothers all played in college — Sotos was entrenched in the game. While basketball was in his blood, he lacked the height to attract scholarship offers.
Heading into his final AAU season, Sotos — who grew from 5-foot-2 as a freshman to 6-foot-3 finally by his senior year at Conant High School in Elk Grove Village, Illinois — had no offers. Playing well for the Under Armour Association changed that.
“That summer, I got about 20 mid-major offers,” Sotos said. “I got some interest from some high-major schools and they were telling me if I did a year at prep school I could get some offers but I just wanted to get to college.”
At Bucknell, Sotos saw an opportunity to play early on that blended well with what he wanted academically. While he wasn’t a regular starter for the Bison, Sotos played 22.3 minutes per game as a freshman, averaging 4.8 points and two assists.
That season, Bucknell went 25-10 and won both the Patriot League regular season and tournament titles. The Bison made the NCAA Tournament as a No. 14 seed and faced Michigan State in the first round.
Bucknell gave the third-seeded Spartans a scare, eventually falling 82-78, but Sotos, who scored five points and registered two assists in 24 minutes, remembers fondly getting to and playing in the Big Dance for the first time.
“The obvious one would be winning the conference championship as a freshman,” Sotos said of his standout memory with the Bison. “That realization, that lifelong dream of going dancing and going to the tournament is coming true, it was an unreal feeling. I’ll never forget that. That was easily the best experience, most memorable experience I’ve had at Bucknell.”
Sotos sophomore season with the Bison was nearly as successful. As a starter, the point guard increased his averages to 8.2 points, 6.1 assists and 30.5 minutes per game. Bucknell shared the Patriot League regular season title with Colgate, after going 21-10 overall and 13-5 in conference play, but fell to the Raiders in the tournament’s finale meaning no return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
It was Sotos’ junior year where things really changed. Despite averaging 11.5 points and 3.9 assists in 32.1 minutes per game, the Bison struggled, stumbling to a 14-20 record and a seventh place finish in the Patriot League standings.
For Sotos and many of his teammates, it was the first time being on a losing team and the point guard admitted he did not handle it well at first.
“Guys started to get away from each other, we all started to get a little, not selfish but we were all kind of thinking about ourselves too much,” Sotos said. “We definitely would get too low on the losses and probably get too high on the wins as well. It was just a rough year. But looking back on it, I was able to come out of it positively.
“I honestly didn’t deal with it as well as I should have but I definitely matured from it, I learned a lot from it and the way I approach the game now… I kind of look at the game differently, in a more serious light.”
Once the year ended and Sotos made his decision to enter the transfer portal, it was about deciding where he wanted to play next. This time around, the recruitment process was different. Not only did the coronavirus pandemic mean Sotos couldn’t visit schools and meet coaches in person, but he also had interest from a host of programs that desired the point guard’s services.
One of those schools was Ohio State, a program Sotos knew a bit about. Bucknell came to Columbus in December of 2018 in a game Sotos scored 12 points and registered five assists in a narrow 73-71 defeat at Value City Arena.
“I remember that game,” Sotos said of taking on the Buckeyes. “I think we were winning going into halftime and we lost a really close one. We had a shot at the buzzer to win it but it wasn’t a good look. I had a good game that game and that’s why when they reached out, it helped that they had seen me play and I had a good game against them so they knew what I was capable of. And I played against them so I knew their style of play, I knew how Coach coached in-game. So that definitely helped to make this decision, that trust.”
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In his new program, Sotos didn’t care much about seeing the campus. He wanted a place where he could contribute to a successful program that would help him further his basketball career. In addition, Sotos looked for good academics and coaches he could relate to. He found that all at Ohio State.
“When I started talking to (the Ohio State coaches), we hit it off right away,” Sotos said. “I was able to check out their roster, I was able to talk to some guys that I know around the NCAA that know the coaching staff at Ohio State and I’ve heard nothing but great things about them and how they’re men of integrity, how they do their job and how they’re professionals. And when I talked to the coaches, I saw that there would be a role that I could fill potentially and play a huge role in that position and help the team win.”
Sotos committed to Ohio State on April 6. He became the latest in a line of transfer point guards under Chris Holtmann who sat out a season before taking over reins of the Buckeyes. But unlike many transfers around the country, Sotos sees the year of not playing as a good thing.
According to the point guard, the 2020-21 season will allow Sotos to get his body where it needs to be to play in the Big Ten, work on his skills and get acclimated to the Scarlet and Gray’s style of play. “The year to develop was actually one of the reasons that sold me.”
Going forward, it’s all about Ohio State for Sotos. As one of three incoming transfers, including fellow point guard Abel Porter and forward Seth Towns, Sotos then had to get to campus once he was allowed. He had already started to get to know his teammates in group Zoom meetings.
Going forward, life is about building on everything he accomplished and learned in three years at Bucknell and preparing to help the Buckeyes behind the scenes next year and on the court in 2021-22.
“Apart from developing my personal game and just getting better as a basketball player, I want to definitely establish myself as a leader when it’s my year to play,” Sotos said. “I want to become an extension of coach Holtmann when I’m on the court. I think there’s a culture at Ohio State that’s established and I want to carry that and I want to keep that and I want to keep that going. I just want to do my part in my year off and get better, but then when it’s time for me to play, I hope that the work I put in it translates. So hopefully I can be an extension of the coach when I’m on the court and all that.”
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Mrs. Chloe Nicholson. Chloe was the wife of the late Frank Nicholson, NHIBT Hall of Fame basketball coach. She was a Sunday School teacher, cheerleading program director, Scout leader and a mentor to many children who attended St. Demetrios Church in Chicago. She was a second mother to all the Greek basketball players from St. Demetrios in the 60’s and 70’s. Our deepest condolences to her family and to all that loved her and her beautiful spirit. Rest in peace alongside, Coach, and your daughter Pam.
Follow Apollo aims to teach Greek traditions and culture to kids all around the world. Katerina Mallios, born in Boston and now living in Chicago talks to Greek City Times about the company she created from her passion and love for Greek culture.
“I feel that growing up outside of Greece slowly disconnects us from our culture and traditions. We kind of lose sight of what it means to be Greek”, says Katerina.
The young Greek woman was inspired by the famous Elf on the Shelf, a stuffed doll that comes out at Christmas time and is widely known in the US. “I just thought that it would be really useful and smart to find a way of spreading knowledge and awareness about Greece and that’s how Follow Apollo was born!”
Follow Apollo aims to help Greek families around the world teach their kids about Greek history, traditions and customs in a fun and engaging way. Its first product is a hardcover book and plush toy that talks about Greek Easter. Children are given the opportunity to learn about Holy Week, Palm Sunday and all relevant religious Festivities regarding Pascha.
Apollo, the main character travels through time and space with his horse Troy, teaching siblings Athena and Dino more about Easter. Along the way, over 50 Greek words are explained and translated; with the help of Apollo, kids will learn how to spell and use the keywords. Furthermore, there is an English-Greek glossary included.
Katerina, born and raised in the US and feels proud of her Greek roots. She thinks that understanding where you come from is crucial for future generations and that is what she is trying to achieve through Follow Apollo; educate and inform kids in an entertaining and captivating way.
“Growing up in places around the world makes it even more important to stay connected to our roots – to understand what it means to be Greek and maintain our values and beliefs. And how are we going to do that, if we do not pass our knowledge and heritage to the future generations?” says Katerina.
More themes are to follow and even more aspects of the Greek culture and history are going to be introduced in future books, she adds.
You can get your Follow Apollo here: thefollowapolloseries
CHICAGO — For 61 years, a wiry white-haired man has reigned king of Maine West High School’s center court.
He’s not the coach. In fact, he never played on the team.
“What can I tell you? I’m on a mission for the team,” smiles Nick Ladas.
At 78, Ladas has the spirit of a student a quarter of his age.
“He gets pretty excited. Sometimes we have to keep him under wraps as we go to play rivals because he gets so fired up for games,” says head coach Tom Prokopij.
They call him Maine West’s CMO… Chief Morale Officer. He attends nearly every practice and all the games, high fiving and calling out players by name.
Ladas has been walking the halls of Maine West High School since he started there as a freshman in 1959.
He says he has no plans to leave just yet.
“I’m holding out for the boys to win a state title!” Says Ladas. “It’ll come and I want to be here when it happens.”
CHICAGO (November 25, 2019) – Loyola University Chicago freshman guard >Sam Galanopoulos (Skokie, Ill./Niles West) has been named the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week, it was announced on Monday by the league office. This marks the first weekly league honor of Galanopoulos’ career.
Galanopoulos averaged 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and a team-best 5.5 assists as Loyola picked up a pair of road wins over Western Athletic Conference (WAC) opponents this past week.
In last Tuesday’s emphatic 98-53 victory over Chicago State, the 5-foot-8 guard flirted with only the second triple-double in program history, finishing with 13 points (6-9 FGs, 1-2 3FGs), eight rebounds, and eight assists, all season-high marks. Galanopoulos again reached double figures in scoring just three days later, adding 10 points (1-8 FGs, 8-9 FTs), five rebounds, and three assists in a thrilling 72-67 double-overtime win at Kansas City.
Galanopoulos is averaging 6.2 points across her five appearances this season. The Niles, Ill. native currently leads all MVC freshmen in assists, handing out 3.6 helpers per game to rank eighth overall in the conference.
Currently sitting at 5-0 on the year, Loyola will be back in action on Sunday, December 1 when it concludes a season-long four-game road trip against Portland at 4 p.m. (CT) in Portland, Ore.
“Before Giannis [Antetokounmpo] there was another Greek. That was me, Dr. George Korkos,” the founding owner of Milwaukee Bucks says with a big grin on his face as he shows the NBA Championship ring he still proudly wears almost five decades after his team won the NBA title.
Korkos, a proud Greek-American, was at the helm of the Bucks when the club wrote the most glorious page in its history by winning the ‘71 championship, thanks in great part to Kareem Abdul Jabaar, whom he describes as “probably the finest basketball player that ever lived” and Oscar Robertson.
The Milwaukee Bucks — with those two stars and a talented cast of role players — would go on to win 66 regular season games in the 1970-1971 season and cruise to the Championship, winning 12 of 14 playoff games, including a 4-0 sweep of the Baltimore Bullets.
Basketball pundits consider that Bucks team as one of the most dominant in the entire history of the NBA.
Korkos, who is now a successful plastic surgeon, describes himself a “sports fanatic,” and still laments the fact that due to his 5’6″ height (1.67 m) he couldn’t play professional basketball himself. “I wasn’t even tall enough to be the trainer, but I loved this sports game,” he says.
With his childlike enthusiasm for the game, he was among those who helped acquire the the Milwaukee Bucks franchise on January 22, 1968. “We were so fortunate to get that franchise. And we got it because of persistence… Once we got it, we were ‘green,’ but we were growing.”
“Giannis has got to do what we had to do. He’s got to bring to Milwaukee another championship!” Korkos says enthusiastically.
The surgeon and basketball entrepreneur clearly remembers the first time he met Antetokounmpo when the Greek Freak was only 19 years of age. Korkos was warned that the basketball player, newly-arrived from Athens, did not speak much English.
“I said ‘OK Gianni, we’ll talk in Greek.’ Well after about 20 minutes, my Greek went to hell, and he said: ‘Enough for today…Your Greek isn’t that good. You’d better speak English with me!” Korkos remembers.
For his part, Antetokounmpo has great admiration for Korkos. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for representing Greece. And you know the saying: Once a Buck, always a Buck,” the Greek Freak notes.
Korkos’ parents were born in the Peloponnesian Peninsula, his father near Patras and his mother in Sparta. “I’m 100% Greek, Greek-American,” he states proudly recalling his roots.
“My parents came here, they got married and had this wonderful life,” he adds.
His Greek roots and love for Hellenism pushed him to co-found The National Hellenic Society, an association of Greek-American leaders, visionaries, and philanthropists who perpetuate and celebrate their homeland’s rich heritage in a multitude of ways.
Through the support of programs that foster the preservation of Hellenic heritage in the United States, The National Hellenic Society strives to be a beacon for the promotion, understanding and appreciation of Hellenic heritage in the United States.
The Society’s mission is also to pass on the stewardship of Greek heritage and shared democratic values and ideals to the next generation.
“The mission of the National Hellenic Society is to promote, and sustain Hellenism in this country. We’re doing it through our youth program. We’re sending our youth to Greece, completely paid for,” Korkos says.
He notes that youngsters in the U.S. — not only those of Greek heritage — have become very very knowledgeable about Greece because of Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
“He’s done a lot about the Greek image, and I’m happy to be his friend,” Korkos says.
The former team owner hopes that the Greek Freak will stay in Milwaukee for many years. “The matrix is such in Milwaukee, that this can be his home for his entire NBA career,” he states.
“I never would imagine how Greek the Milwaukee Bucks have become! As a matter of fact, this year they signed Thanassi, his older brother. So now we have two Greeks on the team. That’s a great thing because [the club] is family orientated.”
The founding father of the Milwaukee Bucks serves as the President of both Plastic Surgery Associates and Rejuva Skin Care & Laser Center, and he is also an Associate Clinical Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
He has been a Director at Fibrocell Science, Inc. since July of 2010, and serves as a Member of Advisory Board of Skinvisible Inc. He has served as scientific Advisory Board Member of the Cellgen Company, the Sleep Holding Company, and Skin Visible Company.
The Greek-American is a member of a number of prestigious medical societies.
“If you asked me ‘George, what would you do if you’d do it over again?’ I would reply that I wouldn’t change my lifestyle at all. I love people, I care for them… Fortunately, we Greeks are lucky!” Korkos says.
NEW YORK – Los Angeles Dodgers two-time National League All-Star Outfielder Cody Bellinger received the 2019 AHEPA Harry Agganis Hellenic Athlete Award at a presentation made prior to the Dodgers game with the New York Mets, at Citi Field, September 15, 2019, announced AHEPA President George G. Horiates. President Horiates, Chairman of the Board Nicholas Karacostas, and Awards Selection Committee Chairman Gregory Stamos presented the award to Bellinger, who is considered a candidate for this year’s National League Most Valuable Player.
“We are honored to present Cody Bellinger with the prestigious Harry Agganis Award,” Horiates said. “Throughout his life, Bellinger has demonstrated excellence as a baseball player. He has flourished as a Major Leaguer and has earned coveted accolades that have eluded many players who reach the Majors. As a community, we are proud of his many accomplishments, and we wish Cody continued success.”
“I would like to thank AHEPA for this recognition,” Bellinger said. “The Award has special meaning to the Greek American community, and I am honored to receive it.”
During the 2019 season, Bellinger, 24 years old, is slashing an impressive .306/.410/.639 with 44 home runs, 106 RBI, and an OPS of 1.049, earning his second All-Star appearance. In his first Major League season, Bellinger was selected as an All-Star and unanimously was named the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year, becoming the Dodgers’ 18th Rookie of the Year and the 22nd player overall to win the award by unanimous vote. In 2018, Bellinger displayed postseason brilliance, appearing in all 12 of the Dodgers’ postseason games and was awarded the 2018 NLCS MVP after driving in the game-winning runs in Games 4 and 7.
Cody is the son of Clay Bellinger, a two-time World Series champion for the New York Yankees who also played for Greece’s 2004 Olympic baseball team.
The AHEPA Harry Agganis award is named after the legendary multi-sport athlete of Greek heritage who died prematurely at 26 from a pulmonary embolism. Agganis, known as “The Golden Greek,” played professional baseball for the Boston Red Sox and was a college football All-American at Boston University.
Previous recipients of the Agganis Award include: NBA MVP and All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Professional Baseball All-Star and World Series Champion Mike Moustakas, Professional Baseball All-Star Player Nick Markakis, former Professional Football Placekicker and Super Bowl Champion Matt Stover, Olympic Diving Champion Greg Louganis, Ultra-Marathoner Dean Karnazes, World Champion Decathlete Tom Pappas, and Professional Football Player Fred Smerlas.
The AHEPA National Athletic Department offers a wide range of regional and national sporting events and competitions. In 1975 the AHEPA Hellenic Hall of Fame was established, and since its inception, more than 150 individuals have been inducted. Also included in the program are National Athletic and Scholarships Awards for amateur and professional athletes who are spotlighted and honored annual at the AHEPA Supreme Convention.
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Founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, on the principles that undergirded its fight for civil rights and against discrimination, bigotry, and hatred endured at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes with more than 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Europe.
AHEPA’s mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence through community service and volunteerism.
For more information, please visit www.ahepa.org.
In Poland, the Greek national team claimed gold at the 2019 Women’s World Deaf Basketball Championship, defeating Lithuania 51-42 in the final to emerge victorious.
On Saturday, Greece took on the Lithuanians in the final, with the players gradually increasing their advantage over the course of the game to earn the gold medal. Initially, Lithuania kept the game level at 9-9 in the first quarter, but the Greeks moved five points ahead by half time and were up by 10 after the third frame.
GREECE W: Chaina (10), Sarakatsani (3), Agagiotou (5), Kotsirea, Spinou (7), Mellini, Verani (1), Voudouri, Katsiafti (10), Patera (15).
Coach: Athina Zerva.
In recent years, the Greek deaf women’s national team has been dominant in the sport, winning the 2016 European Championship in Thessaloniki and the 2017 Deaf Olympic Games in Samsun.
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