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Texas, SMU add frontcourt foreigners

Ioannis Papapetrou (Greece/Florida Air Academy) is the son of a former professional basketball player in Greece. Like his father, Papapetrou is a veteran of the Greek national team. While dad coaches in Greece, his son will be playing basketball for the Texas Longhorns.

Texas beat out Kansas for the services of the 6-foot-8 small forward. Papapetrou's father found his son a high school in the States but the decision to play for Rick Barnes was made by his son. He visited both schools, trimmed his list to UT and KU and then had a difficult decision to make. Bill Self and Joe Dooley, according to Ioannis, couldn't have done a better job with him. Kansas was hard to beat but a closing visit to Texas sealed his decision.

"I didn't want to rush anything," Papapetrou said. "I wanted to come back to my school and sit back and compare. I told the people from Texas I had to go back and speak to my dad because that's important. It wasn't an easy decision.

"Coach Rick Barnes said he doesn't want to put me in a box. He wants me everywhere on the floor. Depending on my matchup I can go down low and play outside. I really liked that way of playing from him. He looks at me to play multiple positions."

Papapetrou is a bit of a mystery. On the AAU circuit his game was misfit in the style of American spring and summer ball. It wasn't for him. He didn't stick with it very long and as a result, the evaluations on him were tough to come by.

"I was excited to play AAU but I got into AAU and we didn't have a big man so I had to play big. I can do that, but it's not the way I play. I'm used to dribbling off screens and now I had to set the screens. I didn't really enjoy it so I decided if I didn't like it there was no point in playing. I decided to stay here and work on my game."

Papapetrou's an intelligent young man who comes from a proud basketball tradition in his homeland. Though little is known about him, much will be expected and he's a must-see (again) player for us this year. He's a good story. Florida Air Academy is the lone military boarding school in Florida and his father settled in on Florida because it's closer to Greece.

Mbargorba picks SMU

The Vanderbilt Commodores were selling Festus Ezeli and a history of developing big men. Kevin Stallings' pitch was a strong one that made sense. SMU sold Papa Dia, a former Conference USA defensive player of the year. On Friday, Matt Doherty's SMU Mustangs won the battle for the services of ESPNU 100 big man Blaise Mbargorba (Highstown, N.J./The Peddie School).

Personally, I think Mbargorba isn't as raw as people think he may be. Two weeks ago, at the Eddie Griffin Challenge, Mbargorba was held scoreless and was totally frustrated in the all-star setting. It wasn't for him. Having seen him in the past and with his travel team, one gets the sense that he not only needs structure, he thrives in it. He's an enormous kid with the requisite foreign big man defensive prowess. However, this guy has touch and he's going to be a good one in college.

Mbargorba and SMU might not be able to tell you for sure what conference they're in, but Doherty knows he's got a player on his hands.