Todd Porter: Koufos won't say if he'll be back at Ohio State

Todd Porter

In the second half of Thursday night’s NIT men’s basketball championship game, Kosta Koufos had all the answers. After winning the tournament’s most outstanding player award, Ohio State’s 7-foot freshman didn’t have the answer everyone wants to know.

Will he graduate return to the Buckeyes for another year? Koufos said Friday he has not determined whether he will declare himself a professional, a move that could open an international bidding competition for his services.

The kid with mad skills has some options. He could enter the NBA Draft, and although he isn’t physically ready for that jump, some team will take him in the first round. Koufos would have to mature -- physically and mentally -- under a microscope in whatever NBA city he lands.

Or he could play in Greece for a year, a move that would bring him, according to one international agent, more money than the NBA initially.

Koufos planned to spend the weekend at home, returning to Columbus on tonight. He said if he turns pro, he likely would hold a news conference in Stark County, Ohio, to announce his decision.

Koufos said one of the aspects he needed to research is whether turning pro would have any impact on playing for the Greek National Team in the Olympics this summer.

Vasileios Giapalakis, a FIBA-registered agent in Greece, said that decision would not impact Koufos standing on the national team.

In fact, Giapalakis said, Koufos likely would stand to make more money playing the next 12 months overseas.

“Right now, the rumor in Greece is if he turns pro he would make a large amount in Greece,” Giapalakis said. “I’m not saying in the long term he would make more (than in the NBA), but right now. If he would turn pro, he could command a salary up to 3 million euros (about $4.7 million dollars).

“He does, right now, have a bigger name in Greece than he does in the U.S. There has been talk that he would be the top pick if he declared after this season. There’s been a buzz around his name. I think he is a really, really talented player who could make a difference on the international level.”

Koufos spent time on Greece’s junior national team last summer. He is a U.S. citizen, born here. His mother was born in Greece.

“It would be an honor to play for Greece in the Olympics,” Koufos said. “It’s definitely something I want to do.”

After his summer tour overseas, Koufos was approached by Greek pro teams. He turned down millions of dollars to play his freshman season at Ohio State.

Nevertheless, he has reached rock-star status in Greece.

“It’s probably 10-fold over there than it is here,” Koufos said. “In Canton, people will come by and say ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ In Greece, people stop and take pictures as they’re walking by. I can’t complain about life over there.”

If Koufos leaves Ohio State, he leaves on the best note possible. After the Buckeyes didn’t get into the NCAA Tournament, they knifed through the NIT field with few complications. Down at halftime to UMass, Koufos scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half.

“I just told myself this is the last game, and I didn’t feel like losing the last game of the year,” Koufos said.

He said it did enter his mind that it could be his last college game -- ever.

“I’m still thinking about it,” Koufos said. “There’s nothing at all to read into (the delay). I’m weighing my options. It was a big jump from high school to college. College to the NBA is a bigger step, and I have a lot of work to do.”

Greece, however, could help bridge that gap.

Deadline for decision

College underclassmen have until April 27 to declare for the NBA. As long as Koufos does not hire an agent, he can go through predraft workouts, get an idea of where he may be selected and still return to school as late as mid-June.

Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail: Catch his blog at to read notes during the week.