'Sky is the limit' for Terps recruit Martin Breunig
Martin Breunig left his Leverkusen, Germany home last summer for St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wis., with a clearly stated purpose.
“When he first got here, he said ‘I want to play major college basketball’ almost immediately,” St. John’s coach Brian Richert recalled.
On Thursday, Breunig made that dream a reality. The 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward committed to Maryland, picking the Terps over Virginia and several other Division I programs.
“For someone to [go after] his dream, come to a different country and give up his family life and social life to chase a dream, and then accomplish it, I’m just so proud,” Richert said. “It’s something I know he’s always wanted. … Going to Maryland, you’re not going to get much bigger than that. We’re very happy for him.”
The recruitment of Breunig – who joins Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard Sterling Gibbs and City shooting guard Nick Faust in Maryland’s 2011 recruiting class – was a whirlwind process. He came to Wisconsin last summer to play for St. John’s inaugural post-graduate team. After questions about his academic eligibility and amateurism were resolved, a host of mid-major programs – including Green Bay, Maine, San Francisco, St. Louis and UAB – came after the future Terp.
“There were other coaches that called Martin and said, ‘I can make you into an NBA player,'” said Martin Esters, St. John’s player development coach and international scout. “I explained to him that it’s a big selling game. Coaches are trying to sell. But he really felt like Maryland wasn’t trying to sell it too much.”
During Breunig’s official visit to College Park on Sunday and Monday, he had a chance to witness the Terps’ 87-80 win over North Carolina State and check out a practice. Seeing the team in action, Esters said, gave Breunig confidence that he could play in the ACC.
While the Maryland coaches made no promises on playing time to Breunig during his visit, the staff did make clear that Dino Gregory was set to graduate, leaving an open spot in the starting lineup at the 4.
“They’re just saying he brings another dimension,” Richert said. “He’s so athletic and he’s long, so he can play multiple positions. He can go down on the other end and help them defensively. He’s very multi-dimensional. He’s been working very, very hard at getting stronger, bigger and faster. You would think at this level, with all the egos, that everyone is concerned with offense and scoring 20 points a game and making the headlines. But he’s doing it a different route. [He’s said], ‘I really want to get ready on the defensive end for the next level.’ And I think he’s approaching it the right way.”
Esters – who’s also from Germany and played for Richert on St. John’s high school team – struck up a friendship with Breunig nearly three years ago. Then a 6-4 guard for the junior team in his town, Breunig demonstrated plenty of potential to Esters. The St. John’s assistant can’t wait to see how Breunig develops at Maryland.
“He’s not a kid that’s only played four years, but he grew late and kept his guard skills with his body,” Esters said. “He’ll get the right coaching, which is another big aspect for why he chose Maryland. He felt that Coach Booth and [Terps assistant coach Rob] Ehsan will really teach him to play the game and help him get better at it. It’s kind of cliché’, but the sky is the limit with him. He doesn’t just have a great body and is athletic; he’s really skilled and has a high ceiling. That’s the thing about him. He can really be great.”
Photo of Breunig courtesy of St. John's Northwestern Military Academy