Alex Priftis and the American Dream
What inspired you to come to America to play basketball? Why USA?
Coming to the USA was probably one of the toughest decisions my family and I ever made. I reached the decision that I wanted to study and play basketball at a high level and I knew that the best place to combine both is in the USA. It had always been a dream of mine to be able to play college basketball and I felt that the best place for me to grow as a person and as an athlete would be here.
What were some of your concerns and expectations about college sports in the USA? What were you looking for at schools in the USA?
My biggest concern was how and if I would be able to adjust to the more athletic and faster paced game of basketball which is based more on athleticism and speed instead of half court set and slower pace that is in Europe. I felt that I needed to change my body and focus on getting stronger in order to play at this level and my goal was to help my team and contribute a lot to win. Something that I always cared about the school I would go was the style of basketball that the coach wants to play and how much of a good fit I would be. Facilities and academics would be the next things on my list to check.
When did you start the process and how did it play out, any stories, twists, turns, anything you really keep vivid in mind?
I started the process of coming here in 2017 which was when me and my family decided that the best option for me would be to attend a prep school and come to Gateway Legacy Prep in Illinois. After that, I committed to Governors State University which at the time was considered one of the best NAIA programs in the Midwest but things did not go as planned. After following a year at a top 20 NJCAA program in Indiana, I find myself at Judson University which seems to be a great fit for me. So far, things are going great and I do not regret my decision coming to play under coach Fields from whom I am learning how to be a better athlete and improve every day. There have been many hardships and difficulties along the way but a huge motivation for me has always been to keep proving people wrong and getting better every day.
Your thoughts on the work and services provided by Nomos?
I feel truly blessed to have the privilege of knowing Dr Tassos Kaburakis. His outstanding talent of giving inspiration and motivation through his achievements to young people is something that forced me to want to succeed in life and overcome every challenge I have been faced with. There is no doubt that none of this would have happened without him. I consider him part of my family and I am proud to do so. Dr Tassos Kaburakis is the most ideal person for anybody who wants to chase his/her American dream.
What has been your favorite thing about your university so far? What do you miss the most? Highlights (and lowlights?) of your stay in the USA so far?
After transferring schools, I have to admit that Judson University is the perfect fit for me. The facilities are amazing, the coaching staff believes in me and pushes me to my limits to get better every day in practice and the business program at the school is well known in the Midwest. Being so close to a big city like Chicago is also great because I get to visit the city on my free time with my friends. I have had many experiences during my stay in the USA so far and all of them have helped me grow and mature as a person and as a student-athlete and I feel extremely blessed for all the opportunities that have come my way. Some of the unforgettable moments would be my call up in the Greek U20 National team Selection in 2018 right after my post grad year at Gateway Academy and getting the unique experience of playing against NCAA D1 mid major schools this season in beautiful arenas. I mostly miss my family and friends in Greece because I haven’t been there since summer 2019 and I am extremely looking forward to getting back and spend time with them.
What else do you have to add for future players who hope to follow a similar path as you? Advice for student-athletes and their parents considering this journey.
Something I would say to other student athletes that are trying to get an opportunity like this one, is to NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS. People and situations will try to stop you from making your dreams come true, but don’t let them affect you. There might be many difficulties and hardships along the way but giving up should not be a choice. College basketball is extremely competitive in the United States and you have to work extremely hard to earn a scholarship. That being said, it doesn’t mean that after you make it here everything will be easy because you have to prove yourself in practice and in the weight room every day that you deserve to be here.
Something else that potential student athletes might need to know are that the services provided to you are services that are not easily provided by a team in Greece, even the largest clubs. I think it is an experience that is not given to anyone and to get a scholarship and enter a university in the USA is quite difficult and requires many sacrifices in many areas of an athlete's life. But I think all this is worth it. It's a life dream and it's something that I personally did not regret doing. Really whoever has this opportunity should chase it because you will definitely regret it if you do not do it. And it is not for everybody. You have to be very determined about the decision you take because not everyone can withstand this pressure or even the distance. You have to be aware and really know what you want.
I would also like to thank some people that have impacted my life and I want to start with my parents who have been by my side by supporting me every minute of my life and sacrificed a lot for me to be in this position now and my girlfriend who is also helping and supporting me in any way possible. I would also like to say a big thank you to my coach in Greece Thanasis Thomopoulos for all the knowledge and training hours he has offered me because if it wasn’t for him and his patience I would probably not be playing basketball now.
Head Coach Bruce Fields on Alex Priftis:
I love having Alex on this team… This year has not been easy on any of our players or any programs around the country as you can imagine.
Not only is Alex a great shooter, but what I like most about his game is that he is so coachable. We want to push him to be the best, so when we see him lacking in an area, we will call him out so that he sees what he needs to improve upon. He really cares about the team and improving his game. Alex does the small things - things we are looking for in athletes when we are recruiting them. He does the small things, things that coaches don't talk about but love to see. He knows what it takes to be a student-athlete by getting good grades, he's always on time to practice, and most importantly, he wants to win.
He's been a great addition to our team and I believe he will only get better!