By GERRY STEELE
A year ago Wade Joseph was senior on the Northwewst Nazarene University men's basketball team in Nampa, Idaho. He was having a successful season, but didn't have plans to continue playing ball once the season ended.
That all changed this past summer.
Today, Joseph, a 6-foot-5 forward is the 12th-leading scorer in the German Regionalliga Herren West professional league, averaging 14.3 points a game. Joseph plays for TuS Bramsche. His most recent game, a 76-63 win over MTV Aurich, was his best so far with 25 points and 18 rebounds.
andquot;I wasn't planning on playing professional ball. I had torn my ACL in the spring,andquot; Joseph said recently while visiting family in Baker City during the Christmas break.
andquot;After I tore my ACL I was going to take a year off,andquot; Joseph said. andquot;I was going to come back to Baker and apply for the freshman boys basketball coaching position. But, right before I was going to come back I got a call.andquot;
Former teammate Ryan McCarthy, who was playing in Germany, called Joseph and said they needed another player.
andquot;So I made arrangements to fly over.andquot;
Joseph went through a couple of workouts, then signed a one-year contract.
andquot;The contract says I will be with the team the while year, but they can release me at any time,andquot; he said. andquot;They also pay all my living expenses.andquot;
Joseph was a member of Baker High School's 2002 boys team that went undefeated in the Greater Oregon League, and finished fifth at the Class 3A state tournament. After graduating from BHS, Joseph played two seasons at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario before transferring to NNU.
Joseph said the league he plays in in Germany is similar to his years at TVCC talent-wise.
andquot;It's comparable to TVCC. It's like their fourth level. Their first level is where some former NBA players and D-1 guys are playing,andquot; Joseph said. andquot;The third level is probably where I'd play best.andquot;
Joseph's current team, TuS Bramsche, is tied for second place in its league. Bramsche is a small community located in northwest Germany near the Germany-Holland border.
andquot;TuS sponsors a lot of sports, both pro and amateur. It's kind of like our YMCA,andquot; Joseph said. andquot;Men's basketball and soccer are the only two professional sports.andquot;
The German league season runs from August through March, but consists of just 27 games, and has no post season.
andquot;It's a lot more relaxed,andquot; Joseph said. andquot;We practice three days a week, and play one game a week.andquot;
The team last played Dec. 22 and won't play again until mid-January.
Joseph said th eleague is formatted similar to English soccer leagues.
andquot;If you play well in your league, making the top two teams, you can move up to the next level. And, if you play poorly, you move down to a lower level.
andquot;That's why TuS got Ryan and me, they want to move up,andquot; Joseph said.
Joseph served as an exchange student to Japan his junior year at BHS. he says that has helped soften some of the culture shock of living in Germany.
andquot;That has helped quite a bit,andquot; he said. andquot;I don't think I've had the culture shock I might have.
andquot;Still it has taken me a while to adjust.andquot;
Joseph said the thing he misses most in Germany is not seeing American football.
andquot;I miss watching my NFL team,andquot; he said. andquot;They have a lot of soccer, but I'm not really that big of a fan. I'm kind of out of touch with not getting to watch football.andquot;
Other things he has had to get used to is the lack of major department stores in Germany, and the fact that almost everyone there smokes.
andquot;There are no big stores in Germany,andquot; Joseph said. andquot;There are a lot of small shops. I kind of like that. There are a lot of bakeries.andquot;
Joseph said the smoking is not for him.
andquot;I don't smoke or drink. But everybody else smokes in Germany,andquot; he said. andquot;That was a big adjustment. At halftime of our games about half the crowd heads outside to smoke because they don't allow smoking in the arena. Almost all of my teammates smoke. They're always headed outside after practice and the games. And, after games, there's always beer on the locker room for the team.andquot;
Joseph said language has been a small problem, but most people he deals with speak English.
andquot;Our coach speaks English, so it's not that much of a problem. And, now that I've been there three or four months its getting easier. And we've always had people on the team who translate for us.
andquot;The first thing I learned was how to order food, and how to shop,andquot; Joseph said. andquot;And, I can get a lot done with sign language.andquot;
Joseph said he's not sure whether he'll continue his basketball career once the current season ends.
andquot;I'm not sure if I want to play next year,andquot; he said. andquot;It's a lot like a job, but I still enjoy it.
andquot;My goal would be to go to Australia for a year. I don't think I can make a living playing basketball. I'd just like to go see the world, and travel.andquot;