ATHENS – St. John’s coach Rick Pitino knows Greek basketball, as a former coach for the top-tier Panathinaikos and Greek national team, as well as in the NBA and U.S. college ranks, and now he’s trying to rebuild a program with players like Greece’s Lefteris Liotopoulos.
The 6-5 guard played for Greece’s DEKA Academy and was recruited for the 2024 season, said The New York Post, Pitino getting a verbal commitment from the Greek player who was glad of it.
“I understand the fact that I would probably get more offers in the next few months, but it would be hard for me to refuse Rick Pitino’s offer, because he’s a legend in basketball,” Liotopoulos, 17, told The Post in a phone interview. “He’s a Hall of Fame coach. I was watching him coach Panathinaikos. He’s a great coach, a very successful coach.”
Liotopoulos was sought by Virginia, Stanford and Princeton, NCAA tournament contenders – which St. John’s used to be before falling on hard times and finding it hard to get blue chips. He said pro teams in Greece were interested but he wanted to go with Pitino.