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Cal Basketball: Mark Fox Talks About His 7-Foot German Freshman

Lars Thiemann is the most intriguing of the Bears' five scholarship freshmen

Lars Thiemann may not make the biggest impact of any of Cal’s five scholarship freshmen this season, but the first-year player from Germany may be the most intriguing player of the group for one simple reason: He’s a 7-footer.

Cal had a 7-footer last year in freshman Connor Vanover, who was in fact 7-foot-4. Vanover proved to be fascinating because he could shoot three-pointers. However, he left Cal after last season and transferred to Arkansas.

But Thiemann provides another interesting story, not only because of his size but because he played in Europe under the international rules of FIBA (International Basketball Federation).

Unlike Vanover, Thiemann has some bulk and some strength, and he prefers to stay closer to the basket, a more traditional big man in that respect.

“Lars has legitimate size to begin with,” Fox said. “He’s got really good hands and the ability to score. He’s bigger than anyone else on our team, and they have to adjust to him.”

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(Players Andre Kelly and Jacobi Gordon insist Thiemann is really 7 feet tall, not the exaggerated height of some so-called 7-footers.)

But, says Fox, “He’s learning to play American basketball for the first time.”

Indeed the differences between American basketball and international ball in terms of officiating and style of play are significant.

Big men like Thiemann typically take a little more time to develop than do guards and forwards, so Fox and Cal fans will have to be patient with him.

Outsiders can get a look at Thiemann and the other newcomers during Wednesday night’s exhibition game against St. Martin’s at Haas Pavilion. If the campus is shut down because of a PG&E power outage, the game could be canceled or moved to another site.