By ERIC TABER
When Montana forward Martin Breunig entered the Grizzly record books as the highest scoring two-year player in school history, head coach Travis DeCuire knew the two-time first-team All-Big Sky performer would get a professional look somewhere, some way.
But with nearly two months before he’s scheduled to report, Breunig has signed a two-year contract to play professional basketball in his native Germany for MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.
“I’m really excited to go back home. I felt like Montana became my new home, so it will be strange to go back, but I’m really excited,” said the two-time team MVP, who finished No. 17 on UM’s all-time scoring list with 1,158 career points.
“He’s a talented young man, so I knew there would be opportunities out there for him. The question was where, when and how long it would take,” said DeCuire.
“It was good to see him settle into something that he could see as a positive in his future and be comfortable with. You don’t see a lot of guys who can make a decision in June with what they are going to do.”
Last season, MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg was a quarterfinalist in the Beko Basketball Bundesliga (the highest level professional competition in Germany), and was recently promoted to the Eurocup, one of the top competitions on the continent.
The 6-8 forward, who worked his way into UM’s 1,000-point club with a soft touch around the rim and mid-range accuracy (resulting in the Big Sky’s second-best field goal percentage), had six offers from different programs around Europe that included teams in France and Turkey.
Some coaches who pursued Breunig saw him as a true post player at five, or more of a run and gun forward that would put up more shots than anyone in the league. At Ludwigsburg, though, coach John Patrick offered Breunig a chance to play a style that Breunig felt fits his natural talents.
“Coach Patrick mainly said: ‘I want you to be involved in pick and rolls, or pick and pop and to be a four man playmaker,’” said Breunig.
“He basically said: ‘We have to develop you at the four. You’re not big enough to play five.’ If I get a better shot, yeah, I have a chance at the three, but I’ll mainly play four. That’s what I like to hear, and that’s why I see myself there.”
Breunig averaged over eight rebounds per game in his career at Montana, and finished the ’15-’16 season as the fourth-best rebounder in the Big Sky, a quality he feels will help him succeed in Germany.
“Their strength (Ludwigsburg) was they were the No. 1 rebounding team in the league. I hope I can keep that up. My main concern is staying in double figures in rebounds and defense,” he said.
At Ludwigsburg, located in southwest Germany near Stuttgart, Breunig joins former Montana stars Brian Qvale (EWE Baskets Oldenburg) and Will Cherry (Alba Berlin) in the Bundesliga.
“He’s (Qvale) already sent me a text congratulating me and telling me to take it easy on him next season,” laughed Breunig.
Breunig will be familiar with at least one of his potential future teammates in former Washington Husky Jon Brockman, who was voted to the Bundesliga All-Star Team in 2015, but has yet to announce where he will be playing in 2016.
Brockman graduated from Washington in 2009, while Breunig played for UW from 2011-2013 before transferring to Montana.
Having just finished working the Grizzly basketball summer camps, Breunig will spend the rest of June and the month of July in the US, training in the Seattle area before traveling to Germany to spend time with his family in Leverkusen.
Players are scheduled to report to Ludwigsburg for preseason training on Aug. 15.