Sandburg’s Victoria Stavropoulos has international aspirations

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Sandburg’s Victoria Stavropoulos loves visiting Greece. She’ll have more than just sightseeing on her agenda, however, when she travels there this summer.

The 5-10 sophomore forward plans to attend a tryout camp for the Greece National 16-and-under team that will compete in the annual FIBA Europe Under-16 championships in Bulgaria.

Call it Take 2 in a chase for a dream that has had some heartbreaking twists.

In June, Stavropoulos was one day away from a flight to Greece and the tryout camp when adversity struck while playing for Sandburg in a summer league championship game at Bradley-Bourbonnais.

“I went up for a shot and came down (badly) on my right knee,” she said. “When I went down the first thing on my mind was, ‘What am I going to do about tomorrow?’ ”

It was the same knee Stavropoulos dislocated several months earlier.

The dream had to be put on hold.

“The last time it took two months to recover and a couple of weeks to get back into it,” Stavropoulos said.

This time the recovery was quicker. Within two weeks Stavropoulos had rehabbed the knee to the point where it allowed her to make the trip. Far from 100 percent, she still was able to show them some of her basic skills and earned an invite to return in 2014.

In the meantime, she’s showing all of her skills for a young Sandburg team that is 12-10 and looking to be one of the stronger squads in the Southland over the next two seasons.

Stavropoulos is averaging 9.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

Her best two efforts of the seasons came back-to-back. In a Jan. 8 win over Lockport, she had a team-high 14 points. In a Jan. 10 victory over Joliet West, she was 7 of 8 from the field, 3-for-3 from the free-throw line and grabbed eight rebounds.

“The strongest part of her game is when she catches the ball, puts it on the ground and takes it to the basket,” Eagles coach Chris Hellrung said. “Her midrange game is really good. When she’s attacking the basket, that is when she’s playing her best.

“And as good of a player as she is, she’s even a better person. She’s an awesome kid who works her butt off and does whatever is asked of her. She’s a real leader for this team and has done an excellent job for us this year.”

Stavropoulos also competes for the cross country and track teams at Sandburg, but basketball is in her blood.

Her uncle, Constantine Stavropoulos, played for two years at UIC, and is in his 15th season as a pro player in Europe.

“I’m still into every sport possible and I just love being an athlete, but right now basketball is just so much fun for me and I have so many opportunities and it was the game I kind of grew up playing first,” Stavropoulos said.

Over the next two seasons she figures to be one of the leaders for the Eagles.

“The next two years are really going to be great,” Stavropoulos said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I think we’ll have a terrific team.”

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