Dimitris Klonaras is the newest addition to the California Golden Bears men’s basketball program. During a tumultuous offseason that saw Justice Sueing, Darius McNeill, and Connor Vanover transfer out, Mark Fox has added a multifaceted guard to the 2019-20 roster. It’s something of a win-win situation. Now Klonaras can watch the occasional NBA game in person, or certainly at a reasonable hour on television rather than at 3 AM back in Greece as he once did. It should be noted that Klonaras calls himself “Dimitris” on Instagram while Cal Athletics and several other sources have him listed as “Dimitrios.”
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Excited to be part of the University of California Berkeley. Looking forward to learning from Coach Fox and being part of a new era of Cal Basketball. I want to thank all the coaches that believed in me and recruited me and my family for all the support. Also I'm grateful to my club PAOK for the 10 year journey. Cal is my family now. #gobears
Klonaras was born in Thessaloniki, Greece and his club team is PAOK B.C. Last year, he participated in the NBA and FIBA joint mission called Basketball Without Borders. Klonaras has not received much playing time for PAOK at the professional level, but this is a pretty common practice. Seniority seems to matter more than pure talent and the youngest members of European squads often find themselves on the bench. The strategy appears to be developing prospects without using them in actual game situations. That makes him a bit of a wild card heading into 2019-20.
However, Klonaras has excelled against his peer group. In the 2017 FIBA Under-16 Tournament, Klonaras averaged 13.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.4 steals. He also managed double figure points in seven of eight appearances while shooting 50% from the field. It wasn’t surprising to see him among the tournament leaders in efficiency. Greece would defeat the Netherlands 74-60 to capture the Division B title.
Below is a summary of what Klonaras brings to the table, or in this case Haas Pavilion.
Klonaras has quick hands, with the ability to turn an opponent’s mistake into fast break points. He’s a disruptive presence especially against shorter guards because he can usually stay with them. In isolation, Klonaras has developed a reputation as a lockdown defender.
Point guard skills
Klonaras’ court vision seems to pair well with a big man who likes heading to the hoop. Despite the expectation that he will play shooting guard, Klonaras has plenty of experience at the point. In addition, he’s 6’6” and quite coordinated for his size.
On the break
It’s not easy to ascertain the level of competition Klonaras is facing in any given segment, but the breakaway speed is impressive. Perhaps the most remarkable highlight of all shows him stealing the ball, dribbling behind his back, weaving through traffic, and going coast to coast for the basket.
Klonaras boasts range and solid form, in some cases draining attempts well beyond the arc. He has shown the ability to create his own shot or get into position for a setup from a teammate. Klonaras does not get intimidated easily: on one play, he nails a three-pointer with a defender right in his face.
Klonaras has a good feel on the boards for a guard. His body control is an asset when it comes time to box out. Here, he turns an offensive rebound into a trip to the free throw line for himself.
Close range scoring
Klonaras can improve on finishing with his right hand, but he is deft with his left. He’s intelligent enough to opt for a jumper if the defense is expecting a dunk. On one occasion during this package, Klonaras executes a very nice reverse layup. He also hits a hook shot in the paint.
This is impossible for me to judge from afar, but basketball analyst Konstantinos Panas has praised the leadership ability of Klonaras. It’s heartening to hear that Klonaras did not shirk attention to detail even when he ranked among the most talented Greek players in his age group. As he said in an interview: “I try to do everything for my teammates.”
Time will tell when it comes to how well Klonaras can adjust to Division I play. Judging by the limited video I have been able to access, it’s exciting to have him on the roster going forward.