In the Hollywood film, Edge of Darkness, Thomas Craven played by Lethal Weapon´s Martin Riggs aka Mel Gibson is a Boston detective, investigating the death of his activist daughter and quickly realizes that her murder is an intriguing puzzle that is filled with conspiracy and corruption and in the end he has the duty of cleaning up the mess of a corporate cover up and find out who actually killed his beautiful daughter. This was a DVD movie that Fraport Skyliner big man Johannes Voigtmann saw his rookie season in the Beko BBL and in a way seeing the Eisenach native in control of a big overfilled shopping cart full of healthy German tasty food at Toom market, the only thing missing was that Mel Gibson rain jacket to cover his Fraport Skyliners training uniform. But when having closer inspection of the 21 year old 210cm center, he has that perfect baby face that just doesn´t seem right for the unexpected elbows that are always flying around in the zone from centers fighting for position and battling for that rebound that could tarnish it. Voigtmann also doesn´t have the resemblance of a very young Mel Gibson from Mad Max at age 23, but moreover looks more like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger from pre Terminator days to his early success in 1969 as a 22 year old in Hercules in New York and winning Mr Olympia competition in 1970 with a competition weight of 235 pounds. Voigtmann is a basketball player and not an actor, but the young basketball hulk definitely knows who the Austrian legend is even if that genre of movies isn´t really his cup of tea. “I don´t like action movies so much, but of course I know his famous line “I´ll be back”. I have watched some of his classic movies though”, expressed Johannes Voigtmann. Voigtmann who weighs 104 kilos may never have a chance of winning a body building competition, but why should he. He is in Frankfurt to develop his basketball game further which he has been doing since arriving in 2012. He may be wearing that baby face for many years to come, but has that basketball body of a man already and his basketball skills are becoming more and more memorable in Frankfurt with each passing game. Voigtmann doesn´t need Schwarzenegger type action films when he is making his own basketball action on the court.
Sometimes one doesn´t have to already be trying to make shots in diapers or playing with the big kids when you can hardly reach their knees and still be successful at a sport if you have talent. Famous athletes like Dider Drogba didn’t sign a professional contract until he was 21, or German legend Miro Klose was playing in the German fifth league with FC Homburg as a 20 year old and two years later was the leading scorer at the 2002 World Cup in Japan. Other professional athletes started to play their future sport that would earn them their living rather late like boxer like George Foreman who was 17 when he tried on some big boxing gloves for the first time and basketball great like Hakeem Olajuwon didn´t start until he was 15 years old. Now if that isn´t a good omen for Skyliner Johannes Voigtmann who as a kid played handball until switching over to basketball at age 15. The German started to play handball as a kid since his dad played, but has to thank his grandmother for getting him into basketball. She received an invitation to a basketball camp in Jena since she headed a school in Eisenach and Voigtmann and his brother went and were asked if they would like to play basketball. After that everything went very quick as both brothers headed to Jena to a basketball boarding school. The Michael Schumacher fan started his basketball career in 2009 for TuS Jena II (2.Regionalliga) where he played 17 games averaging 4,5ppg. At the same time he also played for their NBBL team playing 13 games and averaged 9,2ppg. The early basketball career of Voigtmann really went rapidly as he was developing and could hardly get a breath as a year later he was playing for Science City Jena in the German PRO A. He only played four games in his first season, but over the summer had valuable international experience playing at the European Championships U20 in Bilbao (Spain) playing nine games and averaging 1,9ppg and 1,9rpg. In his second season in Jena , he got more minutes in 2011-2012 as he played 28 games averaging 4,1ppg and 3,1rpg as a 19 year old with only four years of basketball experience. A big reason why the German was able to develop his game so quick in Jena was head coach Georg Eichler who already had the Beko BBL in the future for the youngster. “Coach Eichler did very much individual training with me and was interested in leading me to reaching the Beko BBL. He gave me a lot of confidence and gave me minutes that really helped me”, stressed Johannes Voigtmann. A few basketball birds in the scene started chirping away and Frankfurt management got an ear full of what Voigtmann was capable of doing on the court and soon he was on his way to Frankfurt. Before coming to Frankfurt he gained more important experience playing at the European Championships U20 in Slovenia where he played 6 games averaging 10.3ppg, 5.8rpg, FGP: 64.1%, FT: 63.2%
In the summer of 2012, the Fraport Skyliners signed Johannes Voigtmann to a long term contract as the club made clear that German youth was a big part of the future as they were going to base their nucleus around Danilo Barthel, Johannes Voigtmann and Konstantin Klein. Voigtmann was handed a double license so he could craft his game in the Beko BBL as well as in the Pro B. With Muli Katzurin, the German had a very tough head coach, but was still able to work himself into the rotation as he played 26 games averaging 3,0ppg and 2,1rpg in nine minutes per game. Sometimes having a tough coach helps a young player to know how hard one must work to get better. You can´t sit around the zone picking daisies, but always have to be thinking and showing your opponent that you are two steps ahead of him and that is something that Voigtmann learned from Katzurin. “Katzurin always taught me to be aggressive. We played a very aggressive defense something I wasn´t used to before, but I got used to it”, added Johannes Voigtmann. In the first half of last season there weren´t many highlights for the big man as he had limited minutes except for an eight point five rebound game against ratiopharm Ulm where he played 19 minutes and a six point and six rebound game against Wurzburg where he played 25 minutes. Playing back to back times against two time Beko BBL MVP John Bryant and 2010 Eurochallenge winner with BG Goettingen Jason Boone was a thrill and he had his notebook with him to take notes on their games. “I would like to be able to have everything in control like Byrant. He always knows exactly what he has to do. I think that is one of the reasons why he was MVP. Boone lives from his athletic play and strength. I would like to be able and move as well as him”, warned Johannes Voigtmann. Ex Fraport Skyliner Johnathon Jones who now plays for HKK Siroki Primorka (Bosnia-Division I) also remembers the Ulm win in Frankfurt as his fondest memory with Voigtmann on the court. “ I remember how Joe did a great job against John Bryant in the win at home against #1 Ulm“, stressed Johnathon Jones. His rookie season in the Beko BBl wasn´t easy as he never knew exactly how many minutes he would get. In the stretch run for example he played seven minutes against Bamberg or two minutes against Oldenburg. Then again there were other games near the end where he played more minutes and could fill up the stat sheet better like his 12 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes against Braunschweig or his 16 points and six rebounds against Bonn in 26 minutes or his 12 points in 18 minutes against Giessen. At times it is never easy for a German player to gain the respect of an American teammate, but despite only being in Frankfurt four months last season before moving to Bosnia, Michigan native Johnathon Jones really saw the whole package of Voigtmann and left the team with a big impression of the German. “His game reminded me a lot of Spencer Hawes. He has a good touch and can shoot the three and his foot work is excellent. I think he is a great role model, he plays the game the right way. I’ve seen him in practice and he works hard. The young Germans can really look up to him. I think his time will come and we will see him in the national team, he has a high skill set for his size”, warned Johnathon Jones. Voigtman finished the Pro B season playing 16 game averaging 12.3ppg, 8.8rpg, 3.0apg, FGP: 58.6%, 3PT: 18.2%, FT: 65.6%. He was able to further work on his game while learning from Marius Nolte and Zack Peacock. All in all it was a solid rookie season and the German was satisfied with his season. “There are always highs and lows. I was very happy to be able to get the confidence of the coach and be able to play so many minutes. I just tried to give my best and use my chance. There was a lot of physical stress, but I knew what to expect coming in. I also had this in Jena so I kind of got used to it. I did feel the stress at night when I went to bed”, added Johannes Voigtmann.
At times in his Frankfurt rookie season, Voigtmann looked and moved heavy on the court, but he worked hard over the summer to get his fitness level better losing 14 kilos and currently adds 104 kilo´s to the scale and also got added valuable experience playing at the 2013 University games and was able to match himself each day against three time Beko BBL champion Philipp Neumann who moved from Bamberg to Oldenburg recently. “He is already very far with his game for his age. He found a role quick in Bamberg and has played Euroleague. He is always aggressive and it is a challenge to play against him. I would like to become more agile like him”, commented Johannes Voigtmann. Playing one on one against Neumann hasn´t happened, but with time and experience in the Beko BBL, the self confidence of Voigtmann will surely grow against Neumann. “We haven´t played so much one on one, but I think he would beat me 6-4 or 7-3 if we played 10 times”, added Johannes Voigtmann. The fortunes of Voigtmann grew this season as the club continued to justify their desire to keep developing Germans as the playing time hasn´t only increased for Voigtmann, but he has become a starter together with Barthel and Klein. Frankfurt continues to be a figurehead for German playing time and development that Henrik Rodl has preached in Trier for years. Gordon Herbert has been vital this season for the big jump of Voigtmann in his development in that Herbert has given trust in him and the other starters and just let them play their game and thus their self confidence has risen. Currently he is averaging 8,0ppg, 5,3rpg and a very stellar 1,7apg in 22 minutes per game. When looking at his game, he really has improved in many areas of the game like his post play where he is scoring on a more consistent level, his footwork has improved as he doesn´t shy away from helping a Tez on the fast break and his understanding of the game continues to improve with experience. “Joe has made a big step this season. His development is very impressive. I didn´t expect his mid range jumper to be so good and he brings the needed physicality. I think it will only be a matter of time before he gets an invitation to the German national team”, stressed ex Skyliner Max Weber. His passing together with Danilo Barthel continues to be a delight to watch as they are possibly the best passing four-five man duo in the league. But its not only the passing that makes one want to come to the arena, but they compliment each other so well on the court and who knows maybe one will see them wearing an additional uniform in the future with an eagle on the jersey. “Joe and Danilo understand each other very well on and off the court. You notice that they are important for each other and that they profit from each other”, expressed Fraport Skyliner guard Stefan Ilzhoefer. Centers usually never have to really focus on passing, but if a big man can pass the ball with authority than why not? “He is a player with the basketball understanding of a point guard. I see a mix of Steve Nash and Tim Duncan in Joe”, stressed teammate Stefan Ilzhoefer. This season the German has scored in double figures nine times including a 10 point, 11 rebound performance in the famous three OT win in Ulm and a 18 point, five rebound and five assist game against the Artland Dragons. “Joe has grown with the team, is fitter, has improved his individual game and most important is that he functions with the team. He is a big role model for me. His professionalism and calmness that he brings on the court is impressive. You notice with his game that it keeps improving and going up and I see no end in sight. Frankfurt offers him the opportunity and perfect conditions to become a big player. If he keeps working hard than I am certain he will become a big player, because he brings the requirements with him”, warned Fraport Skyliner guard Stefan Ilzhoefer. Voigtmann is definitely on a very good way and it will be interesting to see how he plays in the six weeks of the season especially in March and April as the Frankfurt schedule will be double filled with make up games. Voigtmann might meet Philipp Neumann again this summer in the German national team or in the playoffs against Oldenburg, but one thing is for sure that the mix of Boris Becker and Oliver Kahn will still have one thing to settle as the two handed running slam dunk from Voigtmann in the face of Neumann in Oldenburg surely will be on his mind for a while.