John Poulakidas announces long-awaited commitment for basketball


Sachin Fong

John Poulakidas, Highly recruited NVHS Senior and future Yale Bulldog.

Neuqua Valley basketball star John Poulakidas announced his commitment to Yale on Sept. 20th. Poulakidas averaged 17.6 points per game as a junior and was named All-Conference and All-Region for the 2019 season. He had over 15 Division 1 offers ranging from Minnesota to Princeton. While deciding his school of choice, he weighed many factors, not just their basketball program but more importantly, he was planning for the next 40 years of his life, not just 4. I recently sat down with Poulakidas to talk about his decision and how his overall Neuqua experience helped him decide where to spend the next chapter of his life.

One of the main reasons behind his choice was the value his family placed on education. Poulakidas spoke about how much his family instilled the importance of education starting at a young age. Being in advanced classes from middle school onwards, he knows, “the ball stops bouncing for me” and a degree will take him further than basketball can, especially from a prestigious school such as Yale.

As a student athlete, Poulakidas is looking forward to his experience at Yale off the court as well. He explained how at Yale the basketball team rooms with regular students and lives an almost normal student life. That aspect of Yale made it very enticing to him, as well as the quality of education. Although he is excited and nervous, Poulakidas knows he will have to work as hard as ever to succeed. He credits his basketball journey at Neuqua to his strong work ethic. He explains, “Being on varsity my freshman year I didn’t see the same success as I would have playing on freshman or sophomore… going through all those experiences really built me for this moment… it made me develop a sense of patience and understanding that things aren’t always going to go my way.” The hard work will apply off the court at an Ivy League school like Yale as well.

The one piece of advice he would give to any current or future Neuqua students is, “If you really love what you’re doing and you’re putting all that time into it, that time isn’t really seen as hard work, it’s seen as doing something that you love.” Poulakidas tells all Neuqua students, athletes or not, to find what they love because then the work comes easily- something he has discovered throughout his Neuqua experience. Good luck to John on the upcoming basketball season and his future at Yale.