Joe Asberry is known as a basketball clown, as a streetworker and last but not least as a former professional basketball player. He came to Germany in the early 90s and when his career had come to a close, he decided to stay in Germany. Eurobasket.com had the chance to talk to Asberry about the dream of American basketball players to play professionally in Europe, about the difficulties to start a new life in a foreign country and about the risks and pleasures of playing pro ball: a must-read for young Americans who play or want to play in Europe.
I'm sure, there won't be many, but for those people who don't know you yet, can you talk about your career as a basketball player, how and when you first came to Germany and where you spent your professional career. Joe Asberry: In high school I was All State in Washington and won a State Championship with the German Legend Christian Welp. He was the foreign exchange student at my school. I was heavily recruited on the West Coast. I took all five of my recruiting visits: Reno, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Washington State. But I ended up choosing the wrong school by going to Pepperdine. I fell into coach Jim Harricks doghouse because of my criminal activity off the court, and did not play much. But I can say I played in the big show during march madness and got a dunk in garbage time in front of 20 000 people. That's big time basketball, I love march madness so much! I was frustrated with my playing time, so I transferred to San Francisco State. I played there for two years, I started and was a main guy on my team. I was not the big star in college, I was a role player known for my rebounding, defense, and my bounce. I got cut by a CBA team in Oklahoma City, and by the Golden State Warriors, but I never gave up. I first came to Germany back in 1991, when Marzel Price was playing in the first division in Giessen. We grew up together in the hood in California, so he hooked me up. I want to thank Thomas Andres, he took a chance on me, when nobody else would, and in return, I averaged 30 and broke a backboard playing for him in the oberliga. I was playing against Big Wysocki (Konrads dad) in that game. When I saw his son this year playing in Bonn in the first division, I told him I was mighty proud that he chased down his hoop dream and his brother Kevin too. That was my first job, I got paid 150 marks per game. I also want to thank Harry Kramer, the second half of that season. I played with him in Krofdorf Gleiburg, and my dunk show never stopped. I averaged 30 in the 2nd Regionalliga and had a 50 point game playing with the managers of the UBC Tigers, Mike and Markus Goch. I helped Crailsheim move to the 2nd division, I played in Finland (2nd Division Korinokia), I played on a touring team in Japan and China, and my last stop was in Luxembourg (BBC Nitia), where I also averaged 30, but I fell out of love with basketball, because in Luxembourg they expect you to do every thing. How can I play the point with no handles? I did it though. If you ever play there, when you leave that country you will be a better basketball player, trust me.
What have you been doing after your career as a basketball player and what made you decide to stay in Germany? Asberry: After my playing career I stared working for a drug prevention center in Hamburg (SPZ) and now I work in Bonn as a streetworker in Tannenbusch. I try to save kids' lifes everyday using basketball as a tool to get them to go school ,stay out of trouble etc. I decided to stay in Germany, because it is better then trying to rob banks in California, for me it was a no brainer LOL!
Many players have a dream of playing a couple of seasons in Europe and then making it to the NBA or at least playing in the Euroleague one day. Did you have that dream yourself back then and how likely is it for a young player to achieve that? Asberry: My dream was to play in the NBA and win a championship. I wanted to be two people when I was a young buck: my big brother Mike, and Dominique Wilkens. I stole their games and put it all into my game. My ballhandling was not good enough for the NBA, everything else was good enough, but I still got cut: wrong place, wrong time. I tell young guys: You have a shot, but it will be very difficult. There are alot of great basketball players out there. So chase your hoop dream and give it your best shot. I gave it my best shot for sure.
What are some of the problems, on and off the court, that a player will face, who comes out of college and who spends his first year as a pro basketball player in Germany? Asberry: I am a natural born clown, but I must take this question very serious, Moritz. I had a long talk with Greg Baker last week, the star player playing in Iserlohn in the 1st Regionalliga. After that conversation I know the answer. The main problem an American coming from college will run into here in Germany is called THE CLUB! It is ok to party and have fun. You deserve it, you work hard, you run lines everyday. I know, I've been there and done that. But the problem is: How do I get home now after the heavy partying and drinking with my teammates? I have watched it every year here, some Americans will get into the car the club has given him, and drive it home after the night partying. This is a bad decision. Take it from a guy who's life has been filled with bad decisions. So party on young bucks, and get a designated driver, leave that car at home. Because when your manager finds out, you will be fired. And I dont even want to think about the fact that you can kill yourself, or hurt others driving in that condition. And trust me: They go HARD HERE! LOL! Or better yet, stay out of the club, study film and become a student of the game.
Do you feel that the players who come to Germany or other European countries for the first time are prepared for the different culture, the different life that is waiting overhere? And what can be done to better that situation? Asberry: Players who come to Europe for the first time have no idea what is going on. A different time zone, a different culture. You leave everyone around you that you truly love, you are on your own. Like my big homey told me: It's time to really MAN UP! You are a professional basketball player now. This is not college, this is your JOB NOW! They pay you for a service, basketball, and they want to see the results. If you can't produce, they will find another player easily that will produce. My advice is to ask guys that you know who play in Europe, what it is all about.
Do you think living the life as a professional basketball overseas can go together with living the "normal" life of a young man, who wants to enjoy life? Asberry: I think that professional basketball and a normal life can go hand in hand. You only have to train I would say a maximum 6 hours per day. Get some shots up for 2 hours, hit the weights for 2 hours, and then your normal practice with your team. So you're still not working that eight hour grind of a 9 to 5. So the other time you can spend checking out the city, bonding with teammates, but please, don't just sit in your apartment playing video games the whole day, like I did LOL!
Compared to other places and to other countries: Is Germany a good place to start your overseas career? Asberry: Germany is an excellent place to start your career. When I see the guys who play here in Bonn: Man, for them it must be like paradise. Your first job in the first league! They play in a beautiful Dome. I am so happy for Dre Mangold, he understands the grind here with basketball. He stayed patient, worked hard, and now instead of playing in that little box of a gym in Hannover, where I tore my biceps dunking, he is now playing in that dome.
Does any player, regardless the school he attended or the college division he played in, has the chance to play overseas? And what's the best way of finding a place to play overseas? Asberry: Oh yes. Let me clear that up right now for people who do not understand basketball here. If you can ball, you can ball. It's nice to go with a guy who played Division 1 for sure, that's big time basketball. But there are guys who play Division 2, 3, Juco, even just coming out of high school who can flat out GO! The best thing about those guys who play on a lower level is most of them always have that chip on their shoulder, like they have something to prove. When I played here in cup games, I was like: Ok, I play in the 3rd league, but today we play against a 1 or 2nd division team, so I am going to prove I can play on that level. I never played in the 1st division here, but in every one of those cup games I dropped 20 and 10, so I proved to myself I could play with those guys. So for you guys playing here on the lower levels: Stay ready, you never know who is in that gym watching you. So for the young guys dreaming about playing professional basketball here in Europe: Check the agents page, contact clubs, get your footage together, go to summer leagues and show cases, and give it all you got. I hope this information helps some youngster out there to live out their hoop dream. And last but not least thank you so much Pat Elzie, my former agent!
Malcolm Riley (ex ETB Wohnbau) joins Sheffield Sharks - 7 hours ago
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Defending champion DBL Sharks Sheffield (BBL) agreed terms with 23-year old American forward Malcolm Riley (196-91kg-93, college: Texas Southern). He already started the season at ETB Wohnbau in German ProA, but left the team in Oct.'16. In only one game he recorded 4 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists this season. Riley just graduated from Texas Southern University and it is his first season as a pro. His team won SWAC Regular Season for two years in a row (2015 and 2016). Riley was voted A... [read more]
Defending champion DBL Sharks Sheffield (BBL) agreed terms with 23-year old American forward Malcolm Riley (196-91kg-93, college: Texas Southern). He already started the season at ETB Wohnbau in German ProA, but left the team in Oct.'16. In only one game he recorded 4 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists this season. Riley just graduated from Texas Southern University and it is his first season as a pro. His team won SWAC Regular Season for two years in a row (2015 and 2016). Riley was voted All-SWAC 2nd Team in 2016 at his college time. Riley has played also in SEBL (Summer Hill).
Sometimes the start to two new seasons can be like day and night and as different and as unexpected for many as the Boston Red Sox were swept by the Cleveland Indians in the ALC as legend David Ortiz had to shed tears a few weeks earlier than he may have expected. For easyCredit BBL club s.Oliver Wurzburg and second year man Brendan Lane (206-C-90, college: Pepperdine), they have experienced a tale of two totally different starts to the season. Last season Wurzburg returned back to the bi... [read more]
Sometimes the start to two new seasons can be like day and night and as different and as unexpected for many as the Boston Red Sox were swept by the Cleveland Indians in the ALC as legend David Ortiz had to shed tears a few weeks earlier than he may have expected. For easyCredit BBL club s.Oliver Wurzburg and second year man Brendan Lane (206-C-90, college: Pepperdine), they have experienced a tale of two totally different starts to the season. Last season Wurzburg returned back to the big dance from the pro A rattling off 4 straight wins against playoff teams like Ulm and Frankfurt and before anyone had really noticed were 7-1 and the little darlings of the league while Bavarian neighbor Brose Baskets Bamberg were wondering if they had to seriously need to pay any attention to this wizardry. The club finished last season grabbing the last playoff spot and being swept by Bamberg, but had gained the respect again of the league. This season's start hasn't been as kind to the club as instead of building on the success of last season, the club has quickly dug a hole for themselves starting 0-4. It definitely has helped the team that the BBL schedule pitted three playoff teams against them including the two top teams of Bamberg and FC Bayern Munich. At least second year man Brendan Lane hasn't take the nose dive in his play from last season as the team has as he has had a solid start, but the work horse hasn't had the shot selection he had last season. Last season the California native played 37 games averaging 13.7ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 59.6%, 3PT: 14.8%, FT: 73.6%. He was rewarded with Eurobasket.com German Bundesliga All-Newcomers Team 2016. This season so far through four games the ex UCLA) center is averaging 11,8ppg, 3,8rpg and 1,8apg, but hasn't had a game yet getting 10 or more shots. Last season he had 22 games where he had 10 or more opportunities to make buckets. The American who is as humble as a player can get credited his team for helping him adapt to the BBl. 'The key for me has been my teammates. I'm playing with unselfish guys who are great passers and that helped me earlier in the year get easy baskets and gain that confidence that has helped me throughout the whole season', stressed Brendan Lane (206-C-90, college: Pepperdine). This season Lane should be able to have another strong season as with Jake Odum has one of the more underrated point guards in the BBL that understands the pick and roll and can stick the ball to a player in even the most congested traffic jams in the paint. He also has good clever players around him that can spread the floor and get him the ball in various moments. Last season he had success against two thirds of the big three with Bamberg and Fc Bayern Munich, but has unhappy memories against Alba Berlin and is hungry for then this season. 'Those games were definitely frustrating for me. Two of the games I got in quick foul trouble and wasn't able to play much and get a rhythm. I wish I could've stayed on the court more in those games to see what I could've done', added Brendan Lane (206-C-90, college: Pepperdine). The club hopes that the start of this season doesn't resemble last season's start of 7-1 with the numbers reversed of 1-7 as both Wurzburg and Brendan Lane (206-C-90, college: Pepperdine) want to avoid the sophomore blues. The club has the head coach with Doug Spradley who now is being tested, but he has the player personal that will get him back to winning ways and a center that wants to add on to his stellar play from last season with fine center play and just doing what it takes to win ball games now.
One of the big problems last season for the s.Oliver Wurzburg was their defense as they were never able to find consistency allowing 80 points or more 23 times in 37 games. So when you give up many points and meet up against a good defensive team, the club usually lost because they couldn't put points on the board. Defense was something that head coach Doug Spradley stressed this season o improve, but so far the club is still looking to find their identity as in the first four games, they have allowed an average of 85 points which is 15th in the league while still finding their rhythm on offense averaging only 70 points on offense which is also 15th in the league. This and the tough start program have been the reasons for the dismal 0-4 start. When looking at the roster though one sees players on paper that seem to be stronger looking than last season. In terms of what the club got to help make up for the departed guys like Dru Joyce, Cameron Long and Seth Tuttle, one comes to the conclusion that this year's team is an upgrade from last season. They picked up underrated point guard Jake Odum as well as veteran Kresimir Loncar, up and coming player Vladimir Mihailovic who paid his dues in Tuebingen as well as talented American Marshawn Powell who was a top player in Italy and ex NBA player James Southerland. All these talented newcomers coupled with keeping some chemistry intact by keeping Americans Brendan Lane (206-C-90, college: Pepperdine), Lamont Ulmer and their string of Germans like Maxi Ugrai and Maurice Stuckey, Wurzburg is a talented team that shouldn't be anywhere near the end of the easyCredit BBL standings. Wurzburg is a versatile team that will annoy teams like last season with their capable offense as well as their zeal to run and mix it up. Despite the slow start, as soon as Wurzburg find their rhythm at both ends of the court, they will be a team that will slowly move up the BBL standings ladder and a big winning streak is always possible as a team like ratiophjarm Ulm showed last season after having a similar rocky start and then winning 13 of 14 games and at the end of the season being the league finalist.
The s.Oliver Wurzburg held on to five players and besides keeping Brendan Lane (206-C-90, college: Pepperdine) also kept . Lamonte Ulmer who is a 30 year old 198cm forward from Hamden, Connecticut that is playing in his seventh professional season. He played at Rhode Island (NCAA) and has experience in the D-league, Luxemburg, Finland and Romania. Two seasons ago he played for KTP Basket Kotka (Finland-Korisliiga) 47 games: Score-5 (17.5ppg), 8.8rpg, 1.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 57.1%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 79.4%; EuroChallenge: 6 games: 20.2ppg, 10.8rpg, 1.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 55.1%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 80.0%. Like Long is offensively very strong and will be another one of the main offensive options as he can score in many different ways.Last season for Wurzburg he played 37 games: 12.0ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 44.1%, FT: 82.8%. The team also kept Maurice Stuckey who is a 26 year old 187cm guard that returned back to Wurzburg last season where he played from 2012-2014 and has seven years of BBL experience. Two seasons ago he played for the EWE Baskets Oldenburg (BBL): 32 games: 5.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 29.6%, FT: 82.1%; Eurocup: 7 games: 5.4ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 90.9%, 3PT: 23.5%, FT: 85.7%. His penetration and speed is something that will help Wurzburg every time he comes into the game from the bench.Last season for Wurzburg he played 31 games: 7.4ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 85.7%. The team also held on to Sebastian Betz who is a 31 year old 198cm forward that brings 10 years of BBL experience with six in Ulm, three in Wurzburg and one with Bamberg. Two seasons ago with Wurzburg he played 34 games: 8.8ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 42.0%, Last season he played 35 games: 4.0ppg, 1.1rpgFT: 71.8%. He is an energizer and can hurt you with his three point shooting at any time.The teal also kept . Maxi Ugrai who is a 21 year old 202cm forward that started his basketball career in 2009 with SCH Wuerzburg Baskets junior team and last season Last season he played 25 BBL games: 3.4ppg, 1.7rpg; and PRO B 19 games: 14.8ppg, 8.3rpg, 2.6apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 54.3%, 3PT: 25.9%, FT: 71.4%.
The team brought in six new players with their most important being point guard Jake Odum who has to run the show. Odum is a 25 year old 193cm guard from Terre Haute, Indiana playing his third professional season and second in Germany. The ex Indiana St. (NCAA) star as a rookie played for PAOK Thessaloniki (Greece-A) playing 33 games: 8.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.8apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 77.6%; Eurocup: 16 games: 7.0ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 38.1%, 3PT: 28.9%, FT: 83.8%. Last season he played for medi Bayreuth (Germany-BBL) playing 34 games: 14.3ppg, 4.3rpg, 5.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 28.2%, FT: 80.2%. His stellar play and how well the team can execute under his command will have a big effect on where the team ends the season. He has the full package as a guard as scoring and dishing are his biggest attributes. Marshawn Powell is a 26 year old 201cm forward from Crozet, Virginia playing his fourth professional season. The ex Arkansas (NCAA) standout has experience in the Ukraine and Lithuania and made a name in Italy the last two seasons with De Longhi Treviso Basket 2012 (Italy-Serie A2) and last season played 42 games averaging 15.0ppg, 7.4rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 37.3%, FT: 69.8%. He is a versatile forward that can fill the highlight clips with dunks of timely shooting. His athleticism will help spark the team at both ends of the floor. The team also added 33 year old 210cm forward Krescimir Loncar who has the Croatian/German citizenship. He is playing his 17th professional season and played his first two seasons as a professional in Germany with DJK S.Oliver Wurzburg (Germany) from 2000-2002. He played eight seasons in Russia, two in Italy and also played in the Ukraine and Spain. He has won 7 professional titles including the VTB and Eurocup as well as played at the 2008 Olympic games, 2009 European championships and 2010 World Championships.He also has played 200 international club games including 69 Euroleague games. His physicality and rugged play inside is his trademark, but he can also drop the three when open.
The team also added Vladimir Mihailovic who is a 26 year old 193cm guard form Montenegro playing his third season in Germany. After playing three seasons for KK Buducnost Voli Podgorica, he came to Germany two seasons ago and made his break through with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen (Germany-BBL) last season playing 30 games: 13.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 3.1apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 52.7%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 71.6%. He is a scrappy guard that can do severe damage getting to the rim as well as sparking the transition with his quick reflexes that lead to steals. He will be one of the players that will carry the team this season. The team also picked up James Southerland who is a 26 year old 203cm forward from Bayside, New York that is playing his fourth professional season. He brings 5 NBA games experience with Charlotte and New Orleans. The ex Syracuse (NCAA) standout played in the D-league, Euzroleague with Limoges and last season played with : Vanoli Cremona (Italy-Serie A) playing 14 games: 5.1ppg, 3.6rpg, 2FGP: 46.4%, 3FGP: 27.1%, FT: 87.5%, left in Jan.'16, later that month moved to Mitteldeutscher BC Weissenfels (Germany-BBL) playing 15 games: 13.5ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 58.2%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 80.6%. The team also picked up 24 year old 193cm guard Charles Barton. His dad coached the Frankfurt Skyliners 10 years ago. Barton started his career at Sanda Basket (Basketettan) in 2008 and then played three years at Oregon State (NCAA) where he played 93 NCAA games. He then returned back home to Sweden and played for the Sundsvall Dragons (Basketligan) where he played 34 games: Score-4 (18.0ppg), 2.1rpg, Assists-3 (5.9apg), FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 32.5%, FT: 80.6%. He will come from the bench and can penetrate, find his teammates or hit the three.
Last season both clubs split exciting close games as Wurzburg stole one in Frankfurt winning 77-75 as Dru Joyce led the winners with 17 points and nine dimes while Brendan lane added 15 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Aaron Doornekamp with 18 points. In the return game, Frankfurt squeezed out a narrow 91-87 victory on the road as they were led by Jordan Theodore with 24 points. Wurzburg was led by Brendan Lane (206-C-90, college: Pepperdine) with 23 points. The Fraport Skyliners come to Wurzburg today on the heels of a two game losing streak having lost to ratiopharm Ulm and getting creamed in their first Champions Legaue game in Monaco. They did bolster their front court with experienced Ekene Ibekwe who compensates the losses of Niklas Kiel and Daniel Mayr. Frankfurt still needs patience with new point guard Kwame Vaughn to learn all the plays. Frankfurt's biggest problems is getting points on the board and taking care of the ball two issues that will need to be done better in Wurzburg. The s.Oliver Wurzburg come into the game riding their first win of the season against the Walter Tigers Tuebingen. Wurzburg gave up an average of 85 points in the first four games and are a bit suspect in that department that could come in handy for the Frankfurt team. Both teams have had special kinds of grin out games in the past in Wurzburg and this could be another one if both teams decide to defend at a high level.
19-year old Latvia power forward Roberts Blumbergs (207-93kg-97) left newly promoted SC Rasta Vechta (BBL) from The last season Blumbergs played at Artland Dragons (ProB) where in 14 games he averaged just 2.0ppg and 1.7rpg. He was selected to NBBL All-Star Game in 2016. Blumbergs represented Latvia at the European Championships U18 in Volos (Greece) last year. His stats at that event were 9 games: 5.4ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.1spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 58.8%. Blumbergs has played previously... [read more]
19-year old Latvia power forward Roberts Blumbergs (207-93kg-97) left newly promoted SC Rasta Vechta (BBL) from The last season Blumbergs played at Artland Dragons (ProB) where in 14 games he averaged just 2.0ppg and 1.7rpg. He was selected to NBBL All-Star Game in 2016. Blumbergs represented Latvia at the European Championships U18 in Volos (Greece) last year. His stats at that event were 9 games: 5.4ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.1spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 58.8%. Blumbergs has played previously professionally also in Latvia (Ventspils Augstskola) and Germany (Quakenbrueck and Young Dragons).
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