Former Lincoln East forward Sam Griesel's journey to winning bronze for Germany's U20 national team

Lincoln East forward Sam Griesel, now playing for North Dakota State, made the roster for Germany's national team at the FIBA U20 European Championship in Tel Aviv.

Sam Griesel’s journey started with a trip to Chicago last summer to get his passport. It ended with the former Lincoln East star winning a bronze medal with Germany at the FIBA Under-20 European championships.

Griesel’s father, Achim, was born and raised in Germany before moving to the U.S. when he was 25. Sam, a dual citizen, was able to try out for the German national team.

With no guarantees he would make the team, Griesel made the trip to Frankfurt in mid-June. The sophomore at North Dakota State was one of 18 players auditioning to make the 12-man roster.

“They watched me in the NCAA tournament games for NDSU,” Griesel said. “After that, they invited me to the first training camp. ... After that, we went to Italy, and then we had our 12 guys.”

The team then went to Spain for another training camp before playing the European championships in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Griesel played in all seven games at the nine-day tournament. The 6-foot-6 forward averaged 5.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game.

“It was an incredible experience being able to come over here and be in a different culture,” Griesel said. “It was really cool. All the teams stayed at the same hotel, so you had all the different cultures in one place.

“Coming here, I had no idea what to expect. All of my teammates were really nice to me and included me in the conversations by speaking English. In five or 10 years, I will really think back to this experience and have an appreciation for all of it.”

It should also help him gain confidence as he heads back to school. As a freshman, Griesel started 22 games and averaged 6.1 points and 3.8 rebounds.

“I didn’t really realize basketball was such a global sport,” he said. “There can be really good players from anywhere. It felt like it was a faster pace than my first year in college, which I didn’t expect.”

Like many college players, Griesel has a dream of continuing his career professionally. His experience playing for Germany could help his chances.

“This experience will help me get my name out there for after college,” he said. “Seeing NBA scouts at the games was really, really cool.”

And Griesel isn’t done traveling this summer. He will join his NDSU teammates for a trip to Puerto Rico starting Saturday.

“Obviously, I miss all of my teammates,” he said. “We didn’t have any seniors last year, and the expectations are going to be pretty high. The group we have is a very tight group.

“I’m looking forward to getting back there and getting back into the flow of everything with the team.”

Mike is a prep recruiting specialist for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MikeSautterOWH. Phone: 402-444-1335.

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