German big man Tim Ohlbrecht has blossomed in his move from Germany to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers - photo by Getty Images

German big man Tim Ohlbrecht has blossomed in his move from Germany to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers – photo by Getty Images

Tim Ohlbrecht was long considered a top level talent, ready to join fellow German Dirk Nowitzki in the NBA if he could continue his development. His star prospect status began to stall as many said he was not living up to expectations. And it took a move to the D-League in the United States for Ohlbrecht – still only 24 years old – to really move closer to the NBA. And the big man says he’s happy about being away from Germany.

Ohlbrecht has been lighting it up in his first season in the States, currently averaging 13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.2 steals per game for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He scored more than 20 points five times (29 points being his high) and collected seven double-doubles in the league. His performance this season earned him a spot in the D-League All-Star Game, in which he collected another double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds in 21 minutes for the Prospects team.

Ohlbrecht’s fame reached another level – especially in the Social Media circles – when it was reported by the Boston Herald that the Boston Celtics would be looking to add a serviceable big man, and his name was mentioned. “Now the Celtics are left to fill out their roster, and the first task is getting a serviceable big man. While agents are certainly pushing their own clients, the C’s are looking at the likes of Jerome Jordan, Tim Ohlbrecht, Shavlik Randolph, Louis Amundson, D.J. White and others.”

Regardless of the speculation if Ohlbrecht is actually on his way to Boston or not, the Wuppertal native is definitely enjoying his time playing with the Valley Vipers.

“I feel incredibly good with the Vipers. That’s why it didn’t take long for me to get used to American basketball. Besides, the weather down there in Texas is really good. It’s 30 degrees (85 degrees Fahrenheit) almost every day. It’s really fun,” said Ohlbrecht in the German language sports web portal

Ohlbrecht, who turns 25 in late August, said he loved taking part in the All-Star Game.

“It was wonderful being part of this huge even. I really enjoyed it. It was a huge surprise for me when I got the text message that I was even nominated for the All-Star Game. I never could have imagined even being backstage there.”

Ohlbrecht really hit talent scout radars in 2005 when he averaged 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds at the U18 European Championship as a 17-year-old. The next summer he was the new talk of Germany when he averaged 15.1 points, 13.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks at the 2006 U18 European Championship.

That earned him a move from Bayern Giants Leverkusen to Brose Baskets Bamberg, where he mainly played for their second team TSV Troester Breitengüßbach. Ohlbrecht never really was able to excel in Bamberg – showing occasional glimpses of the talent that wowed the European basketball world.

In 2009, he moved to Telekom Baskets Bonn, where he had his most productive two seasons in Germany, averaging 10.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 2009-10 and 6.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 2010-11 – the second season as a 22-year-old.

Last season at Fraport Skyliners, he once again tantalized his fans at times. He scored a career-high 27 points against Bayreuth on 7-10 shooting and 13-13 free throws. He also registered double-doubles against Braunschweig and Bremerhaven while collecting 13 points and 8 rebounds against Hagen and 13 and 9 against Tübingen. In total, he averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 16 minutes while shooting 51 percent from the field and 74 percent from the line.

Ohlbrecht said in the interview that he had a number of offers for this season to stay in Germany.

“But I definitely wanted a change of scenery. After playing seven years in Germany, I wanted something new, try something unknown,” said Ohlbrecht.

“I am happy to be out of Germany to start a new chapter here.”

Ohlbrecht, who always relied on his supreme athleticism in his game, has benefitted from the more-open and quicker style of basketball in the States.

“Basketball here is a lot quicker than in Germany. It’s just crazy how we run back and forth. There are a lot more fast breaks than in the Beko BBL. It’s all about reading what your teammates want from you and when they see that you’re open. You just have to play and run with them.”

The game is much different back in his homeland.

“Basketball in Germany is much more structured with a lot more set plays. You often lose the creativity,” said Ohlbrecht.

The 6-10 big man also said he was tired of hearing all the negativity in Germany about him not living up to his potential.

“There are so many negative stories about me in Germany. I constantly am being accused of something. I just wanted to get away.”

Ohlbrecht said his American teammates asked him early on during his time there about all the negativity coming from Germany.  After getting to know him, Ohlbrecht said they would say to him: “You’re a good guy. You practice well and you play hard. It’s bullshit what they say about you in Germany.”

When asked why he thinks he has a bad reputation in Germany, Ohlbrecht responded by saying: “I cannot explain it, no idea. But I also don’t care. I learned to deal with it and not read those stories. My family, my closest friends and my new club know how I really am. And that’s what matters.”

He added: “I am proving now who the real Tim Ohlbrecht is.”

Ohlbrecht said he is using the D-League to get some confidence and some rhythm in his game. But he doesn’t want to stay there over the long haul.

“But it’s an amazing stage to make yourself known.”

When asked if he thinks a call-up to the NBA is realistic, he said: “So many players from the NBA have come down to the D-League this season that the D-League level is really high. So I believe that if you can make your mark in the D-League then you are ready to go to the NBA. Personally, I think I’m on a good path.”

He added: “If I were to get a call-up from an NBA team, I would be thunderstruck.”



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