Sure, s.Oliver Baskets Würzburg’s game against BV Chemnitz 99 was just a warm-up game. But Würzburg’s 98-76 win over the ProA team also provided for a very, very welcome sight for sore eyes.
Yes, if you look at the report of the game, mentioned in the scorers for Würzburg is Maximilian Kleber. Yeah THAT Maxi Kleber. The 21-year-old still-star talent scored eight points.
“For Maxi Kleber, it was the first game in a long time, so we wanted to take things cautiously. He really did his job very well today,” said Würzburg coach Marcel Schröder after the game.
The last time the Beko BBL saw Kleber in action was in the 2011-12 playoffs against Alba Berlin, in which he averaged 2.5 points in just more than seven minutes per game. His last game at all was August 31, 2012 in test contest against Brose Baskets Bamberg in Breitengüßbach.
Last season he dealt with two hand injuries and then issues to a previous knee injury which then required surgery in mid-February 2013.
Kleber was considered one of the top 1992-born talents in all of Europe but he has failed to stay healthy over the last three seasons – missing all of the 2012-13 season. His injury situation is like a riddle wrapped in an enigma.
The Würzburg native missed out on playing for Germany at the U18 European Championship in 2010 when he injured his cruciate knee ligament. He was then hoping to play at the U20 Euros in 2011 but a broken finger kept Kleber from pulling over the Germany jersey and he missed the 2012 U20s as well.
Kleber’s talent is not questioned – when he’s actually on the court.
“Maxi is a tremendous talent. In my mind has the highest potential of any guy his age in Germany and maybe in Europe,” former Würzburg coach John Patrick told heinnews back in March 2012.
“He’s 6-foot-11 with 7-foot-2 arms. He’s a great three-point shooter. He’s just been injured for two years. He’s got a 35 inch vertical jump. He’s a ridiculous athlete. He’s just got to get back used to playing again. And I think we’ll hear a lot more from him in the future.”
Since he was injured so often and off the radars of NBA scouts, Kleber entered his name into the NBA draft in 2012 before eventually pulling it back out. Kleber’s name is automatically entered in the 2014 NBA Draft and talent observers will be anxious to see if he actually can make it back to the court full time and make the impact his talent level would promise.
The first step has been made. Now Kleber must stay healthy so he can make regular appearances in box scores in the Beko BBL.