By only his fourth season in high school basketball officiating, Vasili Mallios had earned a coveted assignment: a spot as a referee for a state semifinal game at the TD Garden.
When you consider the path for most referees is a few seasons in freshman and JV basketball, and then just maybe a promotion to varsity – it’s a testament to Mallios’ work as an official that that he was at the Garden so relatively early in his career.
A former Winthrop High backcourtman whose hopes for a state title were sidetracked in a sold-out, sea-of-Orange Ipswich High gym, Mallios was a 20-year-old student at Suffolk University when he decided he wanted to be a basketball referee.
“I reached out to Paul Halloran whom I had known through officiating my high school games in Winthrop,” said the now 31-year-old Mallios. “He put me in the direction of how to pursue it and I started attending the IAABO Board 130 classes at North Andover High School with rules interpreter Billy Boutilier.”
Mallios took the certified officials’ test, aced it, and then began refereeing middle school, freshman, and JV basketball for his first two years. NEC and Cape Ann League Assigner Larry McIntire then gave Mallios the opportunity to start officiating varsity boys basketball.
One year later in 2014, Mallios was front and center in front of thousands of fans at the Garden. “Paul Halloran and Bob Mullins had recommended me to Larry McIntire who helped me get to the next level. I’m really grateful to those guys for given me a shot, especially as a young official. They entrusted in me that I could handle coaches, handle players and make sure the game is called the way it is supposed to be called.”
In his fifth season as an official, Mallios attended Larry Last’s college officials’ camp. He spent one more season in the high school officiating ranks and was selected to referee a sectional final at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.
On to college Officiating and New England Division 1
After leaving the business world to become a teacher at the Marshall Middle School, Mallios tried out as a college basketball referee and was selected by Mike Stephens and Larry Last for a position in the Division 3 college ranks.
Mallios began working Division 2 games in the NE-10 last year. This past season (2019-2020), Mallios reached the top tier of officiating in New England, taking on assignments in three Division 1 conferences: the Ivy League, Patriot League, and Northeast Conference.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the top Division 1 officials,” said Mallios.
During the day, Malliios is an eighth-grade math teacher at the Winthrop Middle School. He then hits the road for college basketball officiating assignments throughout the region, including games at Brown, Boston University, Bryant, and Merrimack.
“I come home, prep for the next day of school, and then start teaching in the morning,” he said.
Mallios has received “excellent” evaluations, thus drawing prestigious assignments such as Commonwealth Coast Conference Tournament championship games. He refereed the MASSCAC and GNAC finals this year.
Halloran said Mallios is considered one of the best and brightest prospects in the college ranks. He remembers Vasili’s days as a Winthrop Viking basketball player.
“He was one of those players who as an official, if you had a problem with another player on the team, you could always go to Vasili and he would take care of it right away,” said Halloran.
Halloran has followed Mallios’ career from the start. “He showed a lot of promise right from the beginning, We pushed hard for Larry (McIntire) to move him up and Larry was a big fan as well. The results have been unbelievable. He’s part of a really good group of officials in the Boston area and he’s not only in that group, he’s surpassed them.”
Mallios is on the radar for college basketball’s most renowned Division 1 conferences.
“I’ve talked to people who have observed Vasili refreeing Division 1 basketball and they say he’s handled his assignments well beyond his years,” said Halloran, who is also a college referee. “I’m really happy for him – he’s a great kid for a great family and he’s worked hard at it.”
Holding court at home
Vasili Mallios is the son of Steve and Elaine Mallios. His father was a basketball star at Bishop Fenwick High School. His sister, Katerina Mallios, played on some of Winthrop’s greatest teams and continued her career at Babson College. His brother, Dino, was a superb guard at Winthrop and went on to lead the nation in assists while playing at St. Anselm College.
His uncles, Chris, Nick, and Max, all excelled at the game. The basketball court at Winthrop High is the Chris Tsiotos Court, a fitting tribute to the 6-5 star averaged 28 points a game before taking his talents to Suffolk.
Vasili said he remains committed to college basketball officiating and will be returning next season.
“I love it – it is a hobby. I have the best seat in the house,” said Mallios. “You’re always thinking on the court. You have to make a decision in a split of a second. When I stopped playing basketball, I said I had to be a part of it, somehow, It was either coaching or refereeing and I chose a path that not lot of people normally take. Since the first game as a referee, it’s been a great experience.
“I have long-term and short-term goals,” said Mallios. “I’d love to be a part of the Big East, ACC, A-10, but my short-term goals are to making it to the NCAA Division 2 and 3 Tournaments, one step at a time, one game at a time.”