FARGO — North Dakota State sophomore guard Sam Griesel is going to visit his grandparents in Germany this summer. And while he’s at it, he’ll most likely be playing for the U20 German National Team.
The 6-foot-6 Griesel is leaving June 10 for an almost two-month tour with the best young German basketball players. His father, Achim Griesel, was born in Germany and came to the United States when he was 25 years old.
Sam Griesel is one of 18 players invited to a tryout camp that will whittle the roster to 14. It’s pretty much a formality that he’ll make the team since the team organizers invited a U.S. basketball player and is flying him to Germany.
“I think it’s going to be a good experience for me, a lot of people don’t get that opportunity to get some exposure and coaching other than my college stuff,” Griesel said.
It’s crazy how 2 years can change the path of your life. Sam has been selected to the U20 German National team! Sam will be representing Germany on the global stage this summer! Great accomplishment for this young man! Playing in Germany & Israel June/July 2019! @SammyG_22 pic.twitter.com/zPkLhKgp6K— Thomas Viglianco (@VigliancoHoops) May 27, 2019
The connection started last year when Griesel was being recruited out of East High School in Lincoln, Neb. A personal trainer, who played basketball overseas, told Griesel he should think about applying for his German passport.
“I was able to get the passport last summer, which kicked off everything,” Griesel said. “The German coaches were able to watch me in the (NCAA) tournament and the Summit League title game and it went from there.”
It’s the second straight summer a Bison men’s player will compete on the international basketball stage. Last year, former Bison forward Deng Geu played for the Uganda National Team in the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournament averaging 13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Geu transferred to North Texas for his senior season next year.
Griesel is the second college player from the U.S. to get the U20 German invite joining University of New Mexico’s Vladimir Pinchuk. The 6-foot-11 sophomore center graduated from high school in Germany.
It’s a process that has the blessing of Bison head coach Dave Richman, who likes the experience Griesel will get on and off the court. He’ll fly to Frankfurt, Germany, and stay with his grandparents for a few days to get acclimated to the country and time zone.
The first training camp is in Berlin.
“I would say there are way more positives than negatives,” Richman said.
NDSU has a foreign trip of its own scheduled for Puerto Rico Aug. 3-10. Richman said he’ll need to guard against overusing Griesel when he returns to prepare for that trip with his Bison teammates.
“He’s going to get a lot of mileage,” Richman said. “But I don’t worry with a guy like Sam; he’s entrenched and has great relationships with his teammates. When he gets back, we’re not going to throw him into a two-hour practice. Technically, this is a short season for him and he’ll need to recover from that.”
Griesel averaged 6.1 points and 3.8 rebounds. Like his team in general, he came on late in the year to spark the NDSU tournament run, which included the Summit tourney title victory and a “First Four” NCAA tournament win over North Carolina Central.