In the dog days of summer there are always people playing basketball and even in the grueling Midwest heat where the only time to find a comfortable hour of basketball outside is possibly at 9.00pm when the sun is down and the air is a little bit more relieving, but then again if you are a player that is going after their basketball dream, there is no distance or conditions too unbearable. For seven players of one of the 2017 Howard Hoops teams in Germany, there was no 100 degree heat and steamy gym to contend with, but rather 62 degree weather and pouring rain and a 30 minute train ride from the international city of Frankfurt to the small town of Idstein that has a population of 24,000 and about as far away from the NBA as Puerto Rico is to ever winning the soccer World Cup. There isn´t much really too memorable about Idtsein except like so many small towns in Germany presents a breathtaking landscape similar to upstate New York as the most known athlete from Idstein is Max Hopp who is a dart player and where any non- resident could really get lost trying to find the A-3 highway in the pouring rain as finding the right turn was given with a small A-3 sign instead of the normal routine big sign that would make the drive a lot easier. Basketball players will do a lot on a Friday night in the hopes of being discovered in any way or impressing a manager a coach with their basketball skills. The Howard Hoops international tour has been a mainstay for a few years now as founder Ron Howard has developed it further step by step. This summer he already had a camp in Atlanta, Georgia as well as games in Germany this weekend in Idstein and Neu-Isenburg and games in England in September. Howard has been able to place numerous players in Europe and especially in Germany in the last years like Chris Miller, Chris Neal and Christopher Davis as his contact list grows day by day. It will be interesting to see where his track record will stand after this weekend?
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Ron Howard founder of Howard Hoops In Idsein Germany after the kick off his tour in Germany 2017
In Idsein there was a coach in the stands with Danny Stallbohm who also had his son Justin with him who will fire away from downtown like no other when he is on the court as they took in the action.
One doesn´t always have to be in caught up in the playoffs of the NBA, Euroleague, or Endessa where one can witness great basketball in places like the Oracle arena in Oakland or the Wizink arena in Madrid or other leagues in Europe to be in the basketball zone in mind and be more than ecstatic about getting the full hot order on basketball, but one can also be trapped by desire in smaller venues in the dog days of summer in August like the OSP-Rhein-Necker gym in Heidelberg that seats 2000 people. On one side of the less modern arena where the benches are is a wall and seats no people. Any basketball spectator that has been used to the huge state of the art arena´s and were brought into the OSP Rhein-Necker gym blindfolded and turned towards the wall could of suffered a minor heart attack not knowing in what basketball calamity they had stumbled into. On August 8th, the OSP-Rhein-Necker arena in Heidelberg was the focus of a very special basketball evening that showcased great basketball talent all for a good cause as the well known University of Iowa that was an NCAA finalist in 1956 and NIT finalist 2013 were at the start of a European tour that would also take them to Italy and Switzerland and were playing against a put together basketball team for one night called the Basketball Aid Allstars. The game was for a good cause as once again Basketball Aid which had organized a successful tour last summer had put together this special event with all procedes going to help the fight for children stricken with cancer.
Iowa has a young team and some big talent with guys like Tyler Cook, Isaiah Moss, Jordan Bohannon and Nicholas Baer not too mention senior Dominique Uhi who was making his homecoming as he hails from Frankfurt only 98 kilometers from the trendy tourist attraction city Heidelberg where he was in the Fraport Skyliners organization for a few years before making the jump to the States in 2012. The Basketball Aid Allstars were led by coach German basketball legend Pascal Roller and had some very talented young players like Fraport Skyliners Richard Freudenberg and Garai Zeeb or Lukas Wank from Wurzburg, but also the very experienced Alexsandar Nadjfeji who at age 40 still plays like he is 30 and won titles in Germany with Cologne and Berlin.
It isn´t like Jordan Bohannon isn´t engulfed by special basketball vibes each weekend when he enters into huge basketball buildings in the States when he is on NCAA duty battling the likes of Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State or Seton Hall, but even during the dog days of summer and approximately 4,532 miles away from Iowa, the American will be presented with some NBA and brotherly vibes even if he doesn´t know it. When the American who hails from Marion, Iowa and could have called the University of Wisconsin a second home when he was younger sets foot in the tiny size OSP Rhein-Necker arena in Heidelberg, Germany that seats 2,000 on Tuesday it may seem like just any other ordinary gym with one side showcasing stands and the other side where the team´s benches are only a wall behind it, but in reality it will be more than that. The 20 year old 183cm point guard will be at the first stop of a summer basketball tour that will also take him and the Iowa Hawkeyes to the mountains and chocolate of Switzerland and to the pasta and wine of Italy. The first stop in Germany is a very special one as Iowa is taking part in a special event for the Basketball Aid organization that has been fighting against cancer that effects children since 2007 by giving awareness and having events where the proceeds go to cancer aid. As Bohannon and his teammates clash against a special put together Basketball Aid roster of mostly German professional players, the sophomore will have that special brotherly vibe following him all around the court as his brother Jason played for the then USC Heidelberg second division team that played in the OSC gym. He also will taste that NBA flair that is in the arena as current Chicago Bull Paul Zipser learned his basketball trade in this gym when he was a youth and actually was teammates with his brother Jason in the 2010-2011 season and played two games together at the end of the season where the German played two minutes scoring two points and the American tallied a total of 14 points in the two games. Another NBA aspect to this arena is that German basketball legend Pascal Roller will be coaching the Basketball Aid team. He had a stellar career winning 2 titles in Germany with the Frankfurt Skyliners and like Zipser started his career in this gym, but even better was a long time teammate of Dirk Nowitzki in the German national team that fed the Dallas Maverick in the post more times than Tyler Cook will ever dunk at Iowa. Now more than 6 years later Zipser is in the NBA, Jason Bohannon has retired from professional basketball and Jordan Bohannon is on the verge of continuing a very solid NCAA career. Basketball Aid international tour chairman Hans Beth was able to get a Maik Zirbes German national team jersey that was autographed by every member of the team and will be auctioned off at halftime.
On Tuesday August 8th, the University of Iowa will meet the Basketball Aid allstars and the American team led by head coach Fran Mccaffery at Iowa since 2010 are coming off a season ending loss in the NIT Sweet 16 to TCU 94-92 and embarking on the 2017-2018 season with many returning players, some interesting new freshmen and needing to compensate the loss of top scorer Peter Jok.
There was a time in the 70´s where the Montreal Canadians owned the hockey world establishing a special dynasty similar to what the Chicago Bulls mastered in the 90´s winning six NBA championships, but outlasting the Jordan´s and Pippen´s with their brilliance of hockey talent and sheer eloquence on the ice with the names of Lafleur, Gainey, Robinson and Dryden producing 8 titles and made these Gentlemen household names in Canada. Even if Ice Hockey isn´t the most played sport in Canada, it just seems like the countries most popular sport with the success of teams like the Montreal Canadians having a total of 24 Stanley Cups and the success rate of the Canadian national team that has won 26 Gold medals at World Championships and their biggest win of 47-0 against Denmark would be like the Cavs and Lebron James pouring in 350 points against the hapless Brooklyn Nets. Even if basketball has made strides in the last 7-8 years in Canada as it has sent more and more guys to the NBA with Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Ennis, Andrew Nicholson or Jamaal Murray just to name a few, it is out of fashion for the country to develop rare talent like a Rick Fox or a Steve Nash back in the day as nowadays it seems like a few new players reach the NBA each year. Currently it fields 354,000 kids playing the sport in the 3-17 age group, Ice Hockey is still king in comparison to basketball as 543,390 people lace up the skates which is 1,64% of the Canadian population. Canadian national basketball player Tyson Hinz could easily stroll down Rideau street in downtown Ottawa undetected where he hails from while Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson might have a hard time dodging some autograph collectors and gawkers in cafés and even a more older Guy Lafleur would be recognized more than a HInz, but the basketball player is like a Montreal Canadian without skates, but just a tad better. Whereas the Montreal Caandians won 8 Stanley Cup titles in the 70´s, Hinz has accomplished his on impressive feat at only the age of 25 as he has also won 8 titles at Carleton(CIS), plus a Silver medal at the World University Games in Shenzhen (China) in 2011 in only 8 years and with his special lady luck and knack pf knowing how to mesh well with new teammates and teams and win titles, there will surely be new hardware added to his collection soon. He would have had even more had he been able to win in his first two professional seasons in Holland where he reached the semi´s and final, but he finally won his first professional title recently winning the German Pro A with 2004 Fiba Europe Cup winner Mitteldeutscher BC.
Hinz is a 201cm forward that learned his basketball trade at the well known Carleton University in Ottawa and in a span of five years won 7 titles including four CIS titles which is the equivalent of the NCAA title in Canada and three OUA championships.
Riverside, California may just be another city in California that gives it´s 2 cents in helping the estimated 39,14 million of the Golden State keep it´s growth, but when you have 319,514 people living there, you are bound to produce more than just a handful of very talented athletes. When looking at the who´s who of well known sports figures that come from Riverside, one quickly notices that the city that is 57 miles from Los Angeles has had a fancy of producing baseball players more than basketball players. If one were to make a poll asking Riverside natives which player Barry Bonds or Reggie Miller is that places most famous athlete, the responses may be mixed, but stats don´t lie that baseball players own that region. For the old school baseball fans just mentioning the father and son duo of Bobby and Barry Bonds and Dusty Baker would make one or the other reminisce back to four decades as they owned the baseball landscape of the 70´s, 80´s, 90´s and into the millennium. Other notable players were guys like Alvin Davis, 2002 World Series champion and save master Troy Percival, Eric Show and 2002 World Series champion Adam Kennedy just to name a few. Basketball players just don´t match baseball players in number from Riverside, but it has produced some very well known players besides Miller like his sister Cheryl current NBA shooting star Kawhi Leonard, Tony Snell and Euroleague winner with Real Madrid Marcus Slaughter. Another guy that belongs to the short list of professional basketball players that come from Riverside is Mason Biddle. He may not ring a bell for most, but he recently finished his rookie season in Germany and despite all the baseball talent coming from Riverside, in the end he decided to focus on basketball and his talent brought him a professional contract in 2016. Like so many guys before him, he chose against baseball for a reason I chose Tennis after spending my last game in ninth grade at short stop, the usually most exciting position on the diamond getting one ground ball the whole game and just lost in thoughts about what I am doing wasting my time with this sport. It wasn´t so much difference for Biddle as boredom can be a nagging difficulty for a teenager when all you really want is some fun and excitement. Biddle couldn´t come up with so many famous basketball players from Riverside either. “Yea the only other two I can think from Riverside California besides Reggie Miller would be Kawhi Leonard and a good friend of mine Malcolm Lee. Obviously, everyone knows Kawhi and Malcolm played 3 years in the NBA and was in the top league in Turkey this past season. I played baseball growing up and I wish I would have stuck with it but it was too slow paced for me so I stopped playing at a young age”, warned Mason Biddle.
Who knows what may have happened to the baseball career of Mason Biddle had he stayed with it, but he was able to turn professional after his college career at Western State(NCAA2) and now is on a fun and exciting roller coaster ride where he will see if he can be another one of many talented players form America in Europe that can slowly move up the basketball ladder up levels.
BASKETBALL AID International Tour 2017
It was one of the sporting highlights of the last years and it was for a good cause. In the summer of 2016, the BASKETBALL AID International Tour toured through Germany and Luxemburg. They demonstrated attractive basketball at 6 places playing 9 exciting games against EasyCredit BBL, Pro A, Pro B teams as well as against the Luxemburg national team in front of thousands of fans gathering money for children stricken with cancer. 30,000 Euro and a huge wave of enthusiasm and support was the result of the project.
Peter Jok driving to the bucket who finished a stellar Iowa career playing 123 games and now is looking to start his professional basketball career
The BASKETBALL AID International Tour will continue at the start of August. During the University of Iowa´s European tour at the beginning of August, they will come to Germany on August eighth. The Hawkeyes who play in the highest American college league division one will meet a BASKETBALL AID All-STAR team at the Heidelberger arena at the Olympic base Rhein-Neckar(Im Neuenheimer Feld 710) at 20.00. The organizer of the game are German Pro A team MLP Academics Heidelberg with their CEO Matthias Lautenschläger.
This will be the University of Iowa´s only game in Germany as they will play other games in Switzerland against the Swiss national team and in Italy.
“We are very proud to have been able to win such a top university for the continuation of our project. The talks have been running since months”, stressed Hans Beth who is the chairman of the BASKETBALL AID International Tour. Beth and German basketball legend Pascal Roller who won a silver at the 2005 European championships with Germany will look after the opponent of the University of Iowa. “At the moment we are putting together an All-Star team from Germany and it will be an attractive game”, stressed Hans Beth. The game also has a very special meaning for the ex German national player Pascal Roller. I have been a member of BASKETBALL AID for many years and I am looking forward to being a part of this great event.
If you’re a German basketball fan and primarily follow the easyCredit BBL, you surely will be able to easily find the arena´s in big cities like Berlin and Munich, but if your driving through the beautiful countryside of Germany and town hoping, you may not necessarily know if that place has a professional basketball team if you aren´t caught up with the lower leagues like the Regionalliga, second Regionalliga or Oberliga. You won´t find the same caliber of players in these lower leagues then you would in the easyCredit BBL where guys like Rickey Paulding, Bryce Taylor and Quantez Robertson have become the identity players of the league and why people come to watch games. Very often it is these import players in German lower leagues that have some kind of special story and have made their dream come true usually coming from a lower college league, but not necessarily giving less than the BBL players, but often having a special kind of heart that only these type of players can have, because they never had an easy journey to get to the professional level. One of these guys is Ronald Howard. Three years ago, one could of discovered him earning a living playing in the Regionaliga in Limburg in a small school gym in front of not more than 300-400 people. At first glance, one may have thought that 196cm NBA star James Harden had gotten lost or secretly been loaned out for a game, but with closer scrutiny one would of seen the 15cm difference as it really was Ron Howard even if his goatee made him a dead ringer for Harden, but only if one was at more of a distance away. The American is quick to point out what he likes and dislikes about Harden and that having a goatee has nothing to do with him. “I think James is a good offensive player but he doesn’t play defense and that is what I can’t stand about James. Best PG in the league is tough for me because I don’t watch the NBA much because I love Euroleague but I give it to Kyrie that boy knows how to win and as a PG he must know how to be a winner. I grew my goatee out because I´m Muslim”, stated Ron Howard. Even if Howard had played for some other German Pro B teams and in Romania, his professional career was never a cake walk, but one in that he witnessed what lesser known players really go through as making the professional level has many hardships and twists and turns that he somewhat tackled and conquered. Once his professional career ended in 2014, he knew right away, that it was his duty to try to make the professional route for other Americans easier.
The first meeting between Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Ron Howard in Limburg in 2013
Currently Howard is 32 and will be turning 33 in August and had a short professional career, but at least he can always boast that he was able to live the dream of playing overseas.