One member of the Dayton Flyers was not with the team Thursday in Indianapolis as it prepared for a 7:10 p.m. Friday game against Wichita State in the NCAA tournament. Freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo can’t travel with the team because of NCAA rules regarding partial qualifiers.
The 6-foot-10 Antetokounmpo started practicing at the start of the second semester. Coaches and players have had time to get a good look at him and are excited by what they’ve seen. He’ll make his debut on the court next season.
“One thing is Kostas has done a great job in the weight room since the break when he got fully incorporated into our team,” assistant coach Tom Ostrom said. “He’s gained close to 15 pounds of muscle. He’s lifting in a different program than anyone else on the team since he’s not playing. He’s lifting five days a week with Pat (O’Neal). He’s done a really good job getting bigger and stronger in practice.”
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It took Antetokounmpo a little bit of time to get used to the pace of practice, Ostrom said, but he’s adapted well.
“He’s really picked up the offense,” Ostrom said. “He has great instincts on defense. He can really move his feet. He has a knack for blocking shots. Guys will go up for layups and have their man beat, and Kostas will come out of the blue from the weak side to block the shot into the wall. All the coaches look at each other: ‘Where did he come from?’ He’s working really hard on his jump shot. He’s got to get his base strong, his legs stronger for the physicality of the game.”
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Antetokounmpo is the brother of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks star who started in the NBA All-Star Game in February. Kostas attended the game with his other two brothers, Thanasis and Alex. All the brothers were born in Greece and moved to Milwaukee after Giannis was drafted by the Bucks.
Sophomore point guard John Crosby said Kostas and Giannis look identical on the floor. Trey Landers, the only other freshman on the team, said Kostas wants to write his own legacy at Dayton, even though comparisons to his brother are inevitable.
“Obviously, his brother is in the league and he has a lot of popularity because of his brother, but he wants popularity of his own,” Landers said. “I just think next year when he’s able to unleash what he’s got built in right now, it’s going to be crazy.”
Landers described Antetokounmpo as a different breed.
“He’s a 6-10, 6-11 guard,” Landers said. “It’s hard to find those. He’ll have a lot of fire with him next year, and you guys are going to see a great player.”
“He’s going to be great for our team,” Crosby said. “He’s got a lot of length. He’s somebody who can protect the rim. He can do a lot of different things. He can do probably whatever coach asks him. He’s going to be physically able to do it.”
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