The phone calls, the emails, the advice – it’s all coming thick and fast at rising basketball star Paul Tsapatolis.
Tsapatolis is a highly sought-after junior basketballer who is attracting plenty of interest from professional clubs as far away as Europe.
The 15-year-old centre has plenty of offers to weigh up and is sourcing an agent to help decide his future.
“I’ve had agents contacting me, but I think I’ve found one that’s right for me,” Tsapatolis said. “I’m still going through and talking to agents but I might have one soon.”
It is the dream scenario for Tsapatolis.
The biggest basketball clubs from Spain, Italy and Greece have invited him to try out for their teams. The offers will come for one of Australia’s top emerging talents, hence the need for an agent to go through the contracts with a fine tooth comb.
Tsapatolis wants to play professionally and has little interest in going down the route of playing college basketball in the United States.
“As soon as I get paid with Euroleague, I can’t play any college,” Tsapatolis said. “I’ve always wanted to play professionally, make it a job, even though I love it.
“College hasn’t interested me as much – I’ve been more into the big leagues.”
Tsapatolis recently suffered a serious foot injury, but it has not deterred the professional scouts. The high-flying Point Cook youngster suffered two fractures and torn ligaments in his foot when he stepped on a defender’s foot while dunking.
But Tsapatolis is back in the Australian under-16 camp and should be fit and firing for next month’s FIBA Asia under-16 championships in China.
“Even though I’ve just come back from a pretty bad injury, I feel like my basketball career is going really well,” he said.
“I’ve done a few sessions with Melbourne United, had interest from EuroLeague teams, I’m going to the Australian Institute of Sport, I couldn’t be any happier.”
A product of the Maribyrnong Sports Academy, Tsapatolis has set an ambitious goal of being part of the Australian Boomers set-up by 2020.
“I know it’s a high expectation, but 2020 Boomers, I’m hoping to be able to go for that,” he said.
Tsapatolis could put pen to paper on a professional contract this year.
The time and effort that EuroLeague clubs put into the development of their players is what appeals most to hard-working Tsapatolis.
“They train six hours a day,” he said.
“You can’t leave training until you make 10 straight threes in a row.
“Even for the bigs, it’s heaps of dribbling work, heaps of shooting, heaps of guard work.”
Having already travelled beyond the borders to play basketball with his Victorian and Australian representative teams, Tsapatolis is not worried about leaving home at a young age to pursue his dream.
“I feel like I could live away from home,” he said.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to be moving out of home one day anyway, even if it’s three years, so I’m more than happy to do it because it’s something I love doing and my family will always have my back.”