Thursday, August 23, 2012

Leon Tolksdorf is in Storrs Now (w/video)

Drove up to Storrs today and had a nice conversation with Leon Tolksdorf, the freshman forward from Germany.

Tolksdorf arrived on campus about a week ago for international orientation. This past summer, Tolksdorf played for the ALBA Berlin Under-19 team, as well as for the German national team in the European Championships. Germany finished fifth, losing to Spain in the quarterfinals.

Tolksdorf is an interesting story. UConn's coaching staff had never seen him play live before, only on video, when it invited him for an official visit back in May. Other schools -- Providence, Louisiana-Lafayette -- were recruiting the 6-foot-7 shooter, but Tolksdorf knew where he wanted to go.

"UConn was always ranked No. 1 for me," he said. "I was really excited when I heard that I could come for an official visit. When I got here, the coaches were so nice and everybody was so nice to me, the campus was so great. There was no doubt for me to choose another school.”

The presence of two other German natives -- Niels Giffey and Enosch Wolf -- didn't even make that big of a difference.

"That wasn’t the reason why I chose it," he said. "The basketball program is great, the school academically is amazing. That’s the reason I chose the school.”

Tolksdorf played with Giffey on the ALBA Berlin team three years ago. Giffey was the star and Tolksdorf was just in his first year and battling some injuries. He's stayed in touch with Giffey over the past few years through Facebook, text messages, etc.

Giffey and Wolf (whose brother Tolksdorf teamed with in Germany) have taken the freshman under their wings since his arrival in Storrs.

“We’re just trying to help him have an easy start," Giffey said. "I know how it was for me. I was the only guy here, because Enosch wasn’t here. I definitely had my ups and downs. I’m just trying to prepare him for that, mentally.”

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