Rick Pitino Panathinaikos
Photo: Panathinaikos

After two seasons, Rick Pitino will return to the collegiate level, commiting to be the head coach of Iona the next season.

The NCAA coaching legend said in an interview on ESPN that he is going to fulfill his prior commitment to Panathinaikos and the Greek National Team.

“I’m going to fulfill my commitments. We’re in sixth place fighting for a playoff spot. And I’m still going to coach the national team. [If the NBA season ends in time], I’m going to get the “Greek Freak” [Giannis Antetokounmpo] on my team.”

Pitino was hired to become the head coach of the Greek national team in November, while he had agreed to return to Panathinaikos a few weeks before.

Furthermore, Pitino claimed that his experience in Europe helped him become a better coach, especially in the offensive end.

“I learned an awful lot going to the EuroLeague. It’s a different form of basketball. It’s the best offensive basketball played, [including] college and the NBA. The best offensive sets, the best ball movement, the best cuts backdoor, the best passing, the best shooting.

“They don’t have the defenses we have because the athleticism isn’t as powerful, but from a learning standpoint, I learned quite a bit,” Pitino added. “The coaching was fantastic. I’ve coached against Dean Smith, Frank McGuire — I put these guys on the same stage as all the great ones. I learned a great deal. Offensively, it’s made me a better basketball coach.”