Terps Snag International Gem

Maryland picked up a commitment today for 2011 prospect Martin Breunig and we caught up with his coach from St. John's NW Military Academy

Gary Williams has always had a knack for signing recruits who fly under the radar and then molding them into great players. Take Jordan Williams for example. The Terps standout was the #16 ranked center on scout.com in the 2009 recruiting class. Two years later as a sophomore, Williams is a double-double machine and has matured into a player that ESPN's Jay Bilas says is one of the top five big men in the country. Early Thursday morning Gary Williams may have found his next project in a commitment from 6'9 German swingman Martin Breunig.

The buzz about Breunig has come on late and has come on strong. Martin had lived in Cologne, Germany most of his life with the dream of one day playing in the NBA. Breunig played on TSV Bayer Leverkusen, a German club team and also for the German Junior National team until he was discovered. Martin's coach at St. John's NW Military Academy in Delafield, WI, Brian Richert, vividly remembers getting a call from a fellow staff member and the team's international scout, Martin Esters. “I remember Martin Esters calling me and saying 'Coach have I ever found a player for you. This guy (Breunig) is a real diamond in the rough'”, remarks Richert, who claims that he knew Breunig was going to be special the moment he picked up a basketball and began to shoot around.

At 6'9 and roughly 210 pounds, Richert says that Breunig is, “a head up by the rim type of explosive athlete.” And after watching his game tape online, nobody will argue with his coach's claim. Martin has done it all in his one season at St. John's, from running the fast break, to posting up, to knocking down the long range 3. Yet, what Richert says has been perhaps his most effective weapon is his ability to create mismatches. “Martin is so versatile on the floor that we can almost always create a mismatch with him, and if you can do that at the higher levels you can be a real force.”

Arriving in Wisconsin this past August, some wondered how he would adapt to the American game, having never played AAU or high school basketball. However, Breunig hit the ground running and never looked back, posting roughly 15 ppg and 9 rpg throughout the season. Not surprisingly, with his skill set and the numbers he was putting up, Martin started to get some attention from some D-I schools.

Early on, one school stood above the rest: Marquette. “It was early on and this was all new to him. He was getting offers from mid-majors and then Marquette showed some interest. So, because of the caliber of their program and the proximity of the school Martin began to really look into it” remembers Coach Richert. Breunig looked into Marquette to the point where he was about ready to commit in the beginning of January, but decided to step back and slow down. When he did, he started receiving offers from bigger schools. Along with the mid majors like St. Louis, Delaware, Maine and San Diego, schools like UVA, Arizona State, USC and Maryland were beginning to contact Breunig.

“I commend Martin's patience because remember this was all new to him, the recruiting process. He stepped back and looked at all of his options and in the end he made the decision that best fit him”, said Richert, who had a similar conversation with Gary Williams earlier Thursday morning. At a slender 210 lbs, Breunig's body and his game will be more at home in the finesse-centered ACC rather than in a physical conference like the Big East.

Richert credits Martin's adjustment to life in the states to the same man that recruited Breunig: Martin Esters. “Esters, who is also a German native, has just really eased him through the whole transition and the recruiting process. It's been nice to have him here not only as someone to get advice from but also as a friend to Martin”, said his coach.

Along with nearly averaging a double-double in his first and only season at St. John's, Breunig has held his own against some top-notch competition. Breunig was named the “Most Outstanding Player” of the Virginia Military Post-Grad Basketball Challenge; a tournament that Richert estimates featured about 30-40 Division 1 recruits. Having also performed well against powerhouse teams like Hargrave Military Academy, Richert has no doubt that Martin is ready for the bright lights of the ACC. With three months left of training at St. John's, Breunig can only get better, much to the delight of the Maryland faithful who are hoping for big things from the big German. After all, he wouldn't be the first foreign-born Terp to light up the scoreboard.

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