BY MARK HOUSER
Artemis Spanou is pretty accustomed to racking up double-doubles. The 12 times she posted double-digit scoring and rebounds for the Colonials last season ranked second in the Northeast Conference, a big reason the lanky Greek center was named NEC Rookie of the Year.
Now Spanou has a triple to go with all those double-doubles. The 18-year-old won her third MVP award in a European youth basketball tournament, this time in the U20 European Championship Women Division B held in Ohrid, Macedonia, in July. Leading Greece to a bronze medal in the 11-team event for athletes age 20 and younger, the 6’3” Spanou topped all scorers with 19.4 points per game and four double-doubles. After putting up 24 points and 12 rebounds in a 72-70 semifinal loss to eventual gold medal winner Sweden, she posted 17 points and 10 rebounds in the bronze medal game against the Czechs, including the last rebound in the final seconds to seal a 60-59 thriller.
It has been a streak of stellar performances. Spanou was named MVP of the U18 tournament last year and of the U16 championship in 2008, where she also led Greece to the gold medal. Ironically, that victory may have scotched her chances to make it four straight MVPs–by winning, Greece was promoted to the stronger Division A, and while Spanou was a force again in the 2009 tournament, finishing with seven double-doubles and sixth in scoring, the team struggled against more powerful squads from Russia, France, Belgium, and Turkey.
Spanou is a “special talent,” according to Sebastian Montag, spokesman for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Europe. “She impressed us with good overall skills and the ability to play multiple positions. While she was the tallest player on her team, she was also handling the ball, and spent the most minutes on the court in the tournament without seeming to get tired. Outclassing this competition in the MVP voting speaks a clear language and is a great promise for her future development.”
Greece has high hopes for Spanou, who recently became the only teenager on the women’s national team. For now, the Olympics are out of the question; the team isn’t ranked high enough to be invited to the 2012 London Summer Games. But Artemis–named after the ancient goddess of the hunt–no doubt has her aim firmly fixed on such a target. For now, it’s Colonials fans who get to enjoy her talents.