The 17-year-old Franz Wagner goes an unusual career path as a basketball player. "I want to see more of the world," he says – and leaves Alba Berlin.
One thing you can not say Franz Wagner in these times, in which most people speak of the search for new challenges, if they want to disguise that they really want to go elsewhere only because of the highest possible remuneration: that he has gone for the money. But on the contrary.
Franz Wagner, 17 years old and currently the biggest basketball talent in Germany, has just rejected a financially and financially lucrative contract offer from the Bundesliga club Alba Berlin in order to run aground in the American city of Ann Arbor for the team of the University of Michigan. He was young, he explained: "I would like to see more of the world and gain new impressions." What one says so, if one should justify why one does not like to stay.
Alba gave him a great perspective
In the basketball scene, not everyone understood why Franz Wagner moves away – Alba offered him a great perspective. Coach Aito, 72, is considered one of the best talents of talent, he had used the 2.04 meter Schlaks already in the previous season regularly in the pros, and had even been in the ultimately lost final series against Bayern Munich once even the most successful bowler with 14 points. At the end of the season, the 17-year-old was also awarded as the best German junior player. The age limit in the assessment extends to 22 years – so early in the Bundesliga has yet played no one who basically still has to go to the pediatrician, if something is missing.
In the coming season, Franz Wagner would have been even more challenged: In the Euroleague, the second best league in the world behind the NBA based in North America, he could have compared with Europe's elite. "He belongs to this level and should not play against juniors in the US," Albas sports director Himar Ojeda pleaded for Wagner's stay. Not only Ojeda keeps the way to the US college for a sporty step backwards.
In the Wolverines, as Michigan's team is called, Franz Wagner gets at least nothing for basketball games, null, niente, nada, nothing – except a scholarship, with which he saves the otherwise six-digit tuition. The provisions of collegiate sport in the US are very rigid: it is a business that transacts billions of dollars, but the students are pure amateurs who are rewarded with an academic degree. Only a few later benefit from their training in competitive sports.
It used to be the usual way for talented German basketball players. In the 1980s, Detlef Schrempf, Christian Welp and Uwe Blab went through the American school and college system before they landed in the NBA. But when Dirk Nowitzki made the jump directly from the second division in 1998, he showed that there is another way. This paved the way from the Bundesliga to the NBA, without diversion via US universities. After Nowitzki, only a German NBA professional got the finishing touches in college. Ironically, this is now the role model of Franz Wagner, but that's in the nature of the thing: it's his big brother.
Basketball (t) Alba Berlin (t) Franz Wagner (t) NBA (t) Sports (t) Süddeutsche Zeitung (t) SZ