APPLETON, Wis. — Chris Siebert is taking his substantial hoops game global.
The Lawrence University men’s basketball star is part of a 10-player team of NCAA Division III standouts from around the country that will travel to Brazil to play four games later this month.
Siebert (Baraboo, Wis./Baraboo) was contemplating the end of his college basketball career back in March when he read the email inviting him to be a member of the all-star squad.
“I always had the thought in the back of my mind that I wanted to play in Europe and then this came up,” Siebert said. “I’m excited. I’m really excited.”
A 6-foot-2 guard who graduated with a degree in government last month, Siebert views the trip to Brazil as helping the goal of playing professionally overseas.
“Playing professionally has always been a major dream. My dad (Dr. John Siebert) and I have talked about playing in Europe since middle school,” Siebert said.
“I needed a little kick in the pants. I didn’t know the process of who to talk to, where to play. I needed something to come up.”
And then came the email from USA Sports Tours and Events, which organized the trip.
“I knew if I didn’t play overseas, in a couple of years, I would really regret it,” Siebert said. “The summer after I graduated from college would be the summer to try.”
Siebert capped a stellar career by earning first-team All-Midwest Conference honors and third-team All-Midwest Region honors this past season.
A three-time all-conference pick, Siebert averaged 17.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for the Vikings. Siebert shot 46.8 percent from the floor, including 46.2 percent from 3-point range, and converted 81.7 percent of his free throws.
Siebert finished his career fourth in scoring at Lawrence with 1,360 points. He trails only All-American Chris Braier, Lawrence Hall of Famer Joel Dillingham and All-American Ryan Kroeger.
“Chris has talked for years about his dream of playing basketball professionally, and this will certainly help him get closer to realizing that dream,” Lawrence coach Joel DePagter said. “I think he realizes what a great opportunity this team is, and hopefully he meets the right people and gets a chance.”
Recent Lawrence graduates Braier and Chris Page both played pro basketball in Europe, and Siebert is keeping alive the tradition of great players for the Vikings, according to DePagter.
“It’s yet another example of the caliber of student-athlete involved in the LU men’s basketball program,” DePagter said. “Being selected on this team is a special honor and will be a great opportunity for Chris to showcase his talents while he represents the entire school and Lawrence basketball.”
The team, which includes all-region selections Ryan Mile of Colorado College and Robert Kitzinger of Trinity (Texas) University, will leave on Monday and return on July 30. The team will play three games in the state of Sao Paulo and another game in Rio de Janeiro all while taking in some of the country’s famous landmarks.
“I kind of said, it’s now or never,” Siebert said. “I want to be in the game somehow, even when I’m working. This will give me a kick me in the right direction, jump start me.”
Siebert just returned from an exposure camp in Las Vegas featuring about 180 players from Division I to Division III.
“It was really competitive, great stuff,” said Siebert, who is working hard on improving his already well-rounded game.
“I’ve been working a lot on defense, actually. This last week in Vegas I tried picking up full-court more. I’m working on lateral quickness and being comfortable trying to pressure someone. That’s one way to make yourself more memorable if you’re in the other guy’s shorts and making them uncomfortable. Offensively, I want to showcase my strengths, and defensively be a different player than I have been.”