Ever since Anastasios Marcopulos was a small child, he’d stand far from the basket and heave the ball toward the rim.
The basket seemed so far away, Marcopulos needed both hands and a big hip swing just to get it close.
“It was real ugly,” Marcopulos says of his form.
He and his father would later play schoolyard games like Around the World and H-O-R-S-E, where every shot would be taken from well behind the 3-point arc. Sometimes, as far away as half court.
Gradually, he began to get taller, grow stronger and polish his release.
Marcopulos eventually became so accurate with his 3-point shot that, last season, he broke the Servite school record for the best shooting percentage from that distance over an entire season. He made 50 of 114 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc, good enough for a 43.8 success rate.
Now a senior for the Friars, Marcopulos started this season on a high note when he made seven of 10 shots from 3-point range in the season opener Nov. 30 against Canyon, scoring a career-high 21 points to lead Servite to a 71-51 victory.
Playing in front of two of the most vocal student sections in Orange County, he scored the game’s first nine points and made his first four 3-pointers overall before cooling off.
“Every shot I took felt like it had a chance to go in,” Marcopulos says of that night. “I was in a zone.”
The competitive life of a 3-point specialist can seem like a road trip through the Rocky Mountains. One minute you’re going up, the next you’re headed down.
The key, Marcopulos says, is to keep your thoughts pointed in one direction.
“I always try to stay confident, no matter what,” he says. “Even if I miss five in a row, I’m thinking I’m going to make the sixth.”
Marcopulos says it doesn’t hurt to have a mild case of amnesia when you’re a long-distance shooter. Forget everything that happened previously and focus on the next trip up the floor.
“It always helps to have teammates that are positive as well,” he says.
Marcopulos has the benefit of an exceptionally tall teammate in 6-foot-11 junior center Jacob Hughes, who draws in the defense, leaving more time and space for perimeter shooters such as Marcopulos to get a good look at the basket.
“Jacob is big in the post and teams, especially the ones that are undersized, have to focus on him a lot,” Marcopulos says. “When they pinch, it leaves gaps.”
Marcopulos says his main goal this season is to help the Friars win the Trinity League title and advance deep in the Southern Section playoffs.
He has a personal goal of breaking the school record he set last season.
Marcopulos began last season just as hot as he did this season, shooting 59.6 percent from 3-point range through the first nine games before cooling down and shooting 32.8 percent over the final 19.
He also tied a school record for most 3-point goals in a quarter when he made five last season against Gahr and finished 6-for-7 overall.
If you’re wondering, the school record for most 3-pointers in a game is 11 by Garret Love in 2003.
Don’t bet against Marcopulos on that one either.