REGENSBURG (David Hein’s Eye on the Future) - The past four months have been a whirlwind for Giannis Adetokoubo. And things are only starting to pick up for the 18-year-old guard.
Adetokoubo emerged from relative obscurity to become one of the biggest talents in Greece and all of Europe in the age group of 1994-born players. But the Greek-born son of immigrants from Nigeria is still waiting for a passport to continue on his high-flying journey.
Last December, just days after turning 18, Spanish side CAI Zaragoza snatched up Adetokoubo from second Greek division side Filathlitikos and signed him to a four-year deal, reportedly including NBA buyouts after each season. A number of other major European clubs had been interested in adding him as well, including Barcelona and Anadolu Efes, among others.
A flood of NBA scouts and general managers have since headed to Athens to get a look at the Greek capital city native and see if he can really be the 2.06m (6ft 9in) point guard he currently profiles as.
Adetokoubo has been measured with a 2.18m (7ft 3in) wingspan and may not yet be done growing. But he has excellent ball-handling and playmaking abilities that make him a serious NBA prospect. Physically, he has been compared to NBA players Nicolas Batum and Thabo Sefolosha.
Obviously, by playing in the second division in Greece, Adetokoubo hasn't faced top level competition and lacks experience. But his skill set promises big upside and he expects to play for Greece's U20 national team this summer.
Adetokoubo's agent, Giorgos Dimitropoulos, says his client will most likely enter his name in the 2013 NBA Draft to at least gauge his prospects in the United States. Any team that selects him will most likely keep him in Europe to develop his game.
"His talent is readily seen on first glance as soon as he steps foot on the court, but there's obviously still a long ways to go for him to translate that into production at the highest levels of basketball," said noted talent observer Jonathan Givony of draftexpress.com.
"Regardless, this is as unique a story as you'll find in this year's draft class and it will be fascinating to monitor his progress both in the short-term and as he develops over the next few seasons."
Unique because Adetokoubo's future is so bound to a single piece of paper.
His family - including oldest brother Francis - immigrated to Greece in 1992. Even though Adetokoubo and three of his four brothers - including his 1993-born Filathlitikos teammate Thanasis - were born in Greece, they do not qualify automatically to receive a Greek passport.
Adetokoubo has applied for the Greek passport and all reports claim it's just a matter of time and bureaucracy before he is a Greek. But so much is dependent on the papers.
Both the Nike Hoop Summit and the adidas EuroCamp in Treviso are considering inviting Adetokoubo, who obviously could not leave the country without the passport. He also would not be able to play for the Greek U20 national team - reports have even hinted he may be invited to senior team training camp. Even his move to Zaragoza would not be possible.
With a player of so much promise, it would be a real shame if this matter would not be cleared up so he can continue his development.
Another matter is the spelling of his name. Yiannis and Ioannis are just two other ways his first name has been spelt. His last name? All of these have come up with results: Adetokunbo, Adetokoumbo, Atentokoumpo, Adetokoubo, Antetokoubo and Adetokubo.
This one will eventually be cleared up too.
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