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Spiliotis Featured in Port Times Record

September 22, 2014

 

Spiliotis blocks a shot vs. Sayville (Photo credit: Karen Singer)

Spiliotis blocks a shot vs. Sayville (Photo credit: Karen Singer)

The following was written by Clayton Collier for the Port Times Record and is reprinted here with permission.

Port Jeff native signs to play basketball in Greece

Most athletes can only imagine what it would be like to play in the pros, but for one local athlete that dream has become a reality.

Former Stony Brook School basketball standout Danielle Spiliotis recently signed a professional contract to play basketball in Athens, Greece, this winter.

“I feel extremely blessed that I get the opportunity to continue my basketball career,” Spiliotis said. “It’s a bit surreal to be honest, but I am extremely grateful for this wonderful opportunity.”

Spiliotis, a Port Jefferson native, will play for the AO Terpsithea Glyfadas this upcoming season in the A1 league. Although playing the same game, Spiliotis admits that there will be a bit of a learning curve to get used to different style of play.

“European basketball is all about tactics and detail,” she said. “It has and will continue to be an adjustment, but I am excited to learn and become a more complete player.”

Danielle’s father, Steve, said he is excited for his daughter not only to play pro ball, but also to be able to experience their family’s native country.

“I haven’t seen this kind of excitement in her in a long time and she’s just enjoying every moment,” Steve Spiliotis said. “It’s a beautiful country and what she’s been able to see so far and enjoy — the food, the culture, the language, just the general beauty of Greece — she’s super excited about it. It’s just a phenomenal opportunity that you hope every young person would be able to experience.”

Spiliotis began her career at Port Jefferson high school, making the varsity squad in eighth grade. After meeting The Stony Brook School’s head coach Keith Singer through the school’s summer camp and the Town of Brookhaven summer leagues, the 6-foot-1-inch forward-center transferred to The Stony Brook School following her sophomore year.

“She liked their style of play and their whole philosophy on basketball,” Steve Spiliotis said. “She had looked at a couple of other schools, but that was really the best fit for her.”

Spiliotis averaged 22.1 points and double-digit rebounds per game in her junior year, notching a career-high 35 points in January 2008 against Shelter Island. Her efforts contributed to an 18-4 regular season in 2007-08 and a 16-5 record in her senior year in 2008-09. Singer said the impact of Spiliotis’ presence was instant.

“She immediately became the focal point of our offense,” Singer said. “She was a great fit for us.”

The All-County talent caught the eye of a number of schools, in particular Ohio’s Cedarville University head coach Kirk Martin.

“We recruited her with the ability to rebound the basketball and knew her love of the game,” Martin said. “So we knew she’d work hard at it and she did.”

Spiliotis committed to Cedarville in February 2009. With a stockpile of upperclassmen at her position and already enrolled in a demanding five-year nursing program, the team opted to redshirt the then-freshman for her first year of eligibility. Martin said he found it beneficial for Spiliotis to sit out the first year and enhance her abilities.

“Sometimes it’s just good to slowly get involved and slowly move forward,” he said. “It just worked out really well for her.”

Martin said her work ethic contributed to her progression and ultimately “by far her most rewarding year” this past season.

“In my 14 years at Cedarville, there’s no one who just loves to play the game of basketball more than [Danielle],” he said.

Spiliotis started 11 games for the Yellow Jackets in her fifth and final season, averaging a career-high 7.3 points per game while collecting a team-leading 25 blocks. She ended her collegiate career with 568 points and 454 rebounds.

At the end of the season, Spiliotis began looking into continuing her playing career in Europe, soon connecting with agent Vassilis Kouros through Facebook.

Kouros “made things happen,” she said. “He did all the work in finding me a team and spot to continue my career in Greece. He has been very good to me.”

Kouros said he received multiple offers for Spiliotis, but ultimately the AO Terpsithea Glyfadas and head coach Stefanos Papaspiridakos was the best fit for her. Kouros said Spiliotis, being of Greek origin, aided in finding her a contract.

Signing this summer and leaving for Greece just over a week ago, Spiliotis remains thankful to the efforts the Cedarville coaching staff put in to making her collegiate years a success.

“They took the time to personally connect with and pour into their players,” Spiliotis said. “Letting us know we were so much more to them than just players. For that, I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.”

Singer, who Spiliotis credits for instilling confidence in her, said AO Terpsithea Glyfadas is getting a special athlete one does not see often.

“Something that catches any coach’s eye is that she scores multiple spots in multiple ways,” Singer said. “Those kind of players are rare because it is tough to stop a player that can score as many ways as she can.”

Spiliotis’ season begins next month. Kouros said he hopes this will just be the beginning for his client: “This is the first step for Dani. The second step is the [Greece] national team.”

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Greece

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