Currently back home in California, I had a chance to talk with Mavraides tonight about this opportunity, what he's been working on since graduation and his new role playing guard on one of the top teams in Greece. A transcript of our conversation appears after the jump.
Between graduation and signing with Aris, what have you been up to?
I’ve just been working out a lot. I didn’t want to get a job or an internship this summer. I wanted to put all my focus on basketball. I’ve been working out 2-3 times a day and for income I’ve been giving some basketball lessons on the side to some kids from my high school, Serra, and then some younger kids also.
Was there a league you were playing in to stay in game shape?
I was working out at Stanford and down at St. Mary’s, playing pick up with those guys as much as I could get down there. They play two times a week each. One of my teammates at Exeter, Josh Owens, is going to be a senior at Stanford – so I have a connection there.
Besides that I was playing in a couple men’s league games but nothing too serious.
Was there a specific aspect of your game you were working on to make yourself more attractive to potential employers?
Overseas, the three point line is pretty much the same as the NBA line, about two feet further than college. I’ve been putting up a lot deeper shots and trying to get that range of three pointer just as consistent as my college three point shot was.
I know a lot of the teams I was talking to were talking about me being a combo guard – playing just as much point guard as shooting guard - so just continuing to work on my handles and stuff like that. Outside of that, just everything – jump shots, trying to improve my midrange game, as a whole just trying to get better.
How much did your YouTube highlight package help attract the interest of foreign teams?
I’m not sure how much that helped. I know when I first signed my agency told me it was a nice thing to have but they would never send it as a disc to a team. Pretty much anyone can look good on a highlight tape. I know my game films were the things that really got me my offers. It was a good thing to have. I know a lot of people, at least a lot of friends, saw it. I’m glad I made it, at least just for myself to have.
Tell me about your new team. What do you expect your role to be and what do you sense their expectations are of you?
The team is Aris B.C. They’re based in Thessaloniki, which if I’m not mistaken is the second-largest city in Greece. They have a great tradition. The two top teams traditionally are Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. From what I know Aris is right up there with them in terms of being the next-best team. They have a lot of championships and everyone I’ve talked to from over there tells me they have the best fans. There are some pretty crazy YouTube videos of their fans – all about the game with shirts off, waving flags and throwing confetti. Really intense.
I saw they just signed big man Sam Muldrow from South Carolina.
Yeah. I just saw that too. Yesterday, I think. I’m really excited about that. I haven’t talked to him yet or tried to contact him. I might do that in the next couple days if I’m not taking off. That’s really exciting. He was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 3.4 blocks a game. That will be one of the Americans that they sign. I’m very excited to have him.
You signed a three year contract, correct?
Yeah. I signed a three year contract.
Were you able to get your Greek citizenship?
So, if I understand correctly The Yellows can sign two Americans in addition to Muldrow?
Two more Americans. Exactly right.
Do you have aspirations to one day play for the Greek national team?
Definitely. That would definitely be one of my goals. I think they just finished the tryouts in the past couple days for next year’s national team. I know two kids – Nick Calathes who played at Florida and one of my good buddies Michael Bramos who I played a couple years back when I went to Greece for that All-Star Greek Team. He was on that and went to Miami of Ohio. He has played professionally two years now – one year in Greece and the past year in Spain. He’s doing very well in the tryouts from what I’ve heard and hopefully he’ll be able to make it. That would definitely be my highest aspiration to one day play for the national team.
How much, if at all, did the NBA lockout affect your plans to play overseas? Were some teams waiting to see if they could rope in a marquee name?
I’m not too sure. What I know is kind of through what my agent tells me. That never really got brought up too much. I ended up signing rather late compared to some people but that was never really an issue too much. I think having that citizenship kind of lessened how much that affected me just because I counted as a European instead of an American. That was something I wasn’t too worried about but at the same time I know that it is having an effect on a lot of players.
When do you head to Greece?
I don’t even have an official day yet. The start of training camp got bumped back to August 29th. From what they tell me, I’ll be taking off somewhere from early next week to the middle of next week.
What's your schedule like when you arrive?
To be honest, Jon, I’m not even sure about that yet. Aris B.C. is a team that’s in the Eurocup – so they’re in their Greek league and they’re also in that. I think those Eurocup games start September 27th. That’s a date in my head that some reason I remember, but I could be off on that.
That would be pretty soon after training camp. I imagine training camp would be probably a week or two. I think that’s more conditioning and stuff like that before we get in to full-on practice.
How much did the familiarity of Greece play a role in your decision over going to another country like Italy?
I wanted to play for Greece. This whole time in college it was what I was expecting to do. With the financial crisis, a lot of people were saying it was not the right year to play there but at the same time I am extremely happy it worked out. I wanted to play there. My dad has family over there. I really want to learn the language. That’s just where my origins are and that’s where I got my citizenship – which is the whole reason I had some of the offers I did. I am definitely excited to play there. I wouldn’t have been against playing in any other country, but it was also the best option for me as well – the contract, playing time and stuff like that.
How about the fact that yourself, Kareem and Pawel will all be playing overseas in 2011-12? You guys are the first three Princeton teammates I can recall all playing as pros at the same time since the late 1990s.
It is very exciting. I am really glad that Pawel is giving it a chance. Since he has his Polish citizenship, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be playing a couple years – see Poland and stuff like that. It is a great opportunity for all of us.
It definitely shows something about the past couple of teams Princeton has had and how much success we’ve had.
I'm excited for you, Dan. Best of luck with this opportunity.
Thank you very much, Jon.
You can follow Dan Mavraides on Twitter.