Courtesy Gonzaga athletics
SPOKANE, Wash. - There's more basketball to come in the career of Mike Hart, a Gonzaga University senior this past season.
Hart leaves Aug. 3 for Oldenburg, Germany, an independent city in the state of Lower Saxony, Germany, to play for Baskets Akademie Weser-Ems/Oldenburger TB. The team is a member of the Bundesliga league of the ProB, or third division, in Germany. The team won the Regionalliga in 2012 to move to the Bundesliga this past season.
"I think this will be a good starting place for me," Hart said. "I hope to prove myself and work my way up to a higher division."
Hart got the opportunity to play from assistant coach Tommy Lloyd who has several contacts in Germany from his playing days in the late 1990s in Dusseldorf. Lloyd was instrumental in the recruitment of Elias Harris of Speyer, Germany, who was also a senior for the Bulldogs this past season.
"Tommy introduced me to people in the club. The club seems to be run very professionally. I want to experience culture but not be overwhelmed, and I think Germany will do that for me. I think Germany will be a fun and exciting place to live for the next year," Hart said of the experience which awaits him.
The other import on the team is Michael Taylor, a 2011 graduate of Spokane's Whitworth University who just completed his second season with the club.
Hart said he doesn't know much German but "I am trying to learn a little German before I head over. I am using books and online resources. It is hard to find the motivation to study, though. English is spoken somewhat, I believe, but I think it will only benefit me to know some German before I arrive."
To stay in basketball shape, Hart has been playing for his hometown Portland Chinooks of the International Basketball League where he is averaging 6.8 ppg and 11.0 rpg in 12 games with 10 starts.
"I wanted to stay in shape and play in competitive basketball games while I was home in Portland for the summer, so I emailed the owner of a team," Hart said. "It is a fun league that plays 48-minute games with a 22-second shot clock. My team consists of some former D1 (NCAA Division I) players as well as many smaller college players. It has done a good job keeping me in shape."
He said the main teams are Bellingham, Vancouver, Salem and Portland.
"Bellingham has a ton of former Western Washington players. Vancouver has several former Portland State players. Salem has a few former Oregon State guys. The playoffs are July 4-5," Hart said.
Hart, a favorite of Bulldog fans, capped his career this past season by being named the West Coast Conference Defender of the Year. He was also named the captain of the All-Glue Guys team as selected by Seth Davis of SI.com. Hart committed just eight turnovers in 593 minutes this past season while starting 20 of his 35 appearances. He averaged 2.0 ppg and 3.9 rpg.