A Shooting Star

Remember the name Kosta Koufos. Entering his junior season at Canton GlenOak, Koufos is seeing his stock rise quickly as a basketball prospect. Kyle Lamb tells us more today about this very talented prospect who was under the radar until now.

Venture out to the AAU circuit, and you will find a Shooting Star -- literally and figuratively. The King James Shooting Stars squad has one of the fastest rising prospects in the state of Ohio.

Pay close attention, and say it with me now.

Kosta Koufos.

It's a Greek name that you might see spelled in a hundred different combinations. His parents are full-blooded Greek, and Koufos himself was born in the United States – in Ohio actually.

The 6-10 man-child will be a junior this upcoming school year at Canton GlenOak. He averaged 15.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks a game as a sophomore, earning a spot on the Canton Repository's All-Stark County team.

See all of 10 minutes of him in action, and you know he's no ordinary Joe. OK, so I confess that I don't know what Greeks would term an ordinary Joe.

In a state loaded with talent already, especially in his own class of 2007, Koufos has put himself in a category that allows him to be mentioned with such names as O.J. Mayo, Bill Walker, Dallas Lauderdale, Jon Diebler, Aaron Pogue, and Keenan Ellis.

Search for any real weaknesses, and you might more easily be able to actually find the correct spelling of his name than find a weakness. In reality, Koufos' best days are yet ahead.

That still doesn't stop his AAU coach, Brian Bachman from being quite impressed with how Koufos has progressed thus far. Bachman coaches Koufos on the Shooting Stars' 16-under team.

"Obviously he's pretty much a 7-footer that can play inside or outside," Bachman said. "He has all of the post moves and he's one of the better shooters around. On top of all that he is very athletic, so all of that in one package it makes him a pretty decent player obviously."

Koufos, who lives with his mother and grandmother in the Canton area, is a gentle giant. He's a yes-sir, no-sir type of kid instilled with plenty of manners and a little bit of game to boot.

He strives to get better every time out.

"I just think that every time I play, I play my best and I try to improve," Koufos said.

That's one of the many things Bachman likes about him.

"The bottom line is that the kid wants to get better," he explained. "He's always working hard and doing his workouts on a religious basis. He's very coachable and always wanting to do whatever he can for his team."

A year ago, Koufos was an unknown commodity. He has put together a very big spring, which has captured the attention of not only college recruiters, but the media and general public as well.

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment came last weekend where he shined in St. Louis at the Nike Hoops Jamboree. Koufos took a lot away from the experience.

"The competition was great, and I think I did really good," he said. "I could shoot, dribble, and most everything else while most big men there could just post up."

But Koufos was well aware of the competition he was up against, and it was quite meaningful to have played so well against them.

"It's that much better because everybody in the camp is good and was chosen for a reason," he explained.

Over the course of the year, Koufos has seen attention skyrocket. Now almost everyone knows about him, and the ones that don't are quickly learning.

Many have wondered -- could he always do this and no one notice before now, or did he get better?

"I think both," Koufos responded. "I think I've improved a lot more, but as a freshman I was pretty good too. I'm more confident with my skills now too."

Currently, Koufos names a list of schools recruiting him that read Maryland, Duke, Miami (Fla.), Illinois, Michigan, Xavier, Akron, Notre Dame, Penn State, Purdue, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Princeton, Ball State, and Ohio State.

Koufos' early favorite is Maryland, a school he has already seen and knows a little more about.

"(I like) the coaching staff," he said. "They have a great head coach (Gary Williams), and I really like the atmosphere there. I visited the campus, my mom and I did, and it was great. The buildings there are nice. They have a great facility."

Duke is another school that recently entered the picture. Ohio State is involved, and Koufos cautions not to forget about them just yet. For now he's keeping an open mind.

"I think Ohio State is good. I like the program a lot, actually," he explained. "I'm just keeping all of my options open since I've got another year or so."

Whether he goes to Maryland, Ohio State, Miami or Mars, people will want to remember and learn this name.

The best truly may be yet to come for Koufos. Bachman quivers to think of his potential years from now.

"I think he needs to work on getting the mental attitude and the edge, which I think most everyone needs to work on. That comes with confidence and his game is getting better all the time," Bachman concluded. "He's going to just keep getting better and better. The sky really is the limit for him."

Spell his name however you like, just don't forget it. If it helps you to remember, maybe you can just call him, star. Soon, everyone else will be.

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