Papi is a player whose skill set appeals particularly to basketball purists and the versatile 6-8, 225 pound Longhorn sophomore forward is taking major offseason developmental strides in fulfilling his considerable potential. He lacked assertiveness as a freshman in a train wreck season and only flashed his growing skill set (8.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg), but if Texas can manage any sort of guard play whatsoever next year, Papi is a promising dark horse candidate for All-Big 12 honors.
And the Longhorns best chance to have anything resembling an offense.
Why the optimism?
At the Euro U20 in Estonia, Papi played excellent basketball against top level international competition and finished with 15.9 ppg and 5.3 rpg playing 33 minutes a contest. He was in double digits in 9 of his 10 games and led Greece in scoring. He was in the top 10 in tournament scoring overall.
Particularly impressive given that his teammate, fellow swingman Giannis Antetokounmpo, was the 15th selection in the 2013 NBA draft. And though Euro competition can be uneven (my apologies, Montenegro), the upper tier teams can easily compete with quality NCAA teams.
Ioannis shot 48% from the field, 71% from the FT line (and 34% from 3) while leading Greece to a 8-2 record and a 5th place finish.
Here's hoping that Rick Barnes sees what Ioannis is capable of when given confidence and freedom to play his game.