Papapetrou's decision comes as a huge surprise to those within the Texas basketball program. Not only did he tell the staff on multiple occasions not to worry about the Greek power's advances, but Papapetrou was slated to fly back into Austin tomorrow to begin the start of his sophomore season in the program.
Additionally, the forward didn't inform the staff of his decision, with European basketball website Eurohoops.net breaking the agreement between player and club.
This wasn't the first time the Longhorns have had a foreign club make a run at one of Texas's foreign-born players — Dogus Balbay was also pursued during his time on the 40 Acres, though he finished his career with the Longhorns.
While the losses of Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis, and yes, even Myck Kabongo, could be somewhat stepped over, Papapetrou's stings for a couple of reasons. First, with the timing of it, the Longhorns aren't able to go out and find a suitable replacement, as the Longhorns were somewhat able to plan an do with the others. And second, while Papapetrou hadn't truly broken out for the Longhorns yet, a big spring of workouts and a huge summer at the U-20 European Championships for Greece made it seem like the question seem more "when" he was going to star as opposed to "if."
Unfortunately, in a classic good-news, bad-news scenario, Papapetrou's play overseas attracted the attention of Greek clubs, and after a long wooing period, Olympiacos was able to finish the deal just before Papapetrou was set to fly back to the states.
His absence leaves the Longhorns without one of its biggest leaders and likely biggest scoring threats, on a team with few proven scorers. And as he was the only natural three on the roster — Martez Walker could develop into that role — it looks like Texas will have two options: either going jumbo with three big men, or, and this would seem more likely, to go small with three guards. In that case, keep an eye trained on Damarcus Croaker. While Kendal Yancy would appear to have the better frame to play in that kind of role, the Longhorns will need to find somebody to help manufacture offense. That could lead to Croaker finding a role in the starting lineup, though that battle will likely rage on through the early season.
With the state of the Big 12 — Kansas and Oklahoma State are up, Baylor appears decent and everyone else has huge changes to make — the Longhorns aren't out of the NCAA hunt just yet. But I thought Texas with Papapetrou was probably the Big 12's third-best team, and a sure-fire NCAA team. Now, they're a team whose margin for error got significantly smaller.