Wake Forest finished the 2016-17 basketball season on a high note with its first NCAA tournament bid in seven years and a young roster with all but one player of significance eligible to return.
Then star center John Collins decided to enter the NBA draft after a breakout sophomore season. At least his unexpected departure came early enough to give coach Danny Manning time to adjust.
Manning won’t have the same luxury in filling the latest hole in the Deacons’ lineup, created Saturday when it was announced that Dinos Mitoglou will forego his senior season to return home to play professionally in Greece. The 6-foot-10 forward signed a four-year contract worth better than $2 million to play for Panathinaikos, one of the top clubs in European basketball.
“We are proud of Dinos and know that this is a great opportunity for him to return home and play for one of the best clubs in the world,” Manning said in a statement. “He bought into our development plan and it has paid off for him. Just like John, Dinos is a great kid who wasn’t a highly-ranked recruit, but by working hard at Wake Forest he was able to achieve his dream of playing as a professional.
“Although we are disappointed to see them leave our program, we are proud that we were able to help them reach a point where they could sign a contract that will change their families for generations to come.”
Mitoglou was was a late addition to Manning’s first recruiting class at Wake in 2014. A two-star prospect, he blossomed quickly as a stretch four capable of scoring both in the paint and from the perimeter.
The “Greek Deac” finishes his college career having posted 40 double-figure scoring performances in his 96 games while averaging 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds. He set a career high with 28 points in a win against LSU last season. Mitoglou’s 123 career 3-pointers ranks 12th in school history.
A native of Thessaloniki, Greece, Mitoglou is currently playing with the Greek national team that is preparing for FIBA EuroBasket 2017. It is his first camp with the senior national squad after playing for Greece in several youth tournaments.
His departure, combined with Collins’ selection as the No. 19 overall pick in the NBA draft to the Atlanta Hawks, leaves the Deacons with only two returning big men this season — 7-1 junior Doral Moore and 6-11 sophomore Sam Japhet-Mathias — along with incoming freshmen Olivier Sarr, a 6-11 native of France.