It is no secret that the real career hero´s of any young athlete are the mothers. Not only in basketball, but in all sports. The mothers are there for the kid for all things. Making that great home made food or getting the correct toys in those early years of life was very essential. But there are so many other very important things that mom´s are there for especially in the ongoing career of a player. A mother of any player could easily boast that they had a second career in their life and that was being a type of chauffeur. Ok so there were of course many dad´s out there that also were able to slip into that role as chauffeur like a Richard Williams of the famous Williams tennis queens and many more, but often the dad was too busy to assume that role as I learned in my early life as my mother had the job of driving me from ice hockey rink to ice hockey rink in Boston. I´m sure it also wasn´t any different with the famous Limburg family Stalbohm´s as son Justin was playing for Eintracht Frankfurt. It was either dad Danny or mom Heidrun that drove their son to Frankfurt on the weekends that took about a total of two hours. Having that love from the mother is something that so many players have experienced in their life times and it wasn´t any different for Canadian/German Luka Dolman. Dolman is another one of those special raw diamonds that has non ending talent and will get that chance to display his unique skills this upcoming season in Germany with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. What makes this story even more out of the ordinary is that wiha Panthers head coach Alen Velcic believed his instinct as this young player is coming direct from having played high school to the pro´s as he was denied two years of college ball. The talented guard was signed on account of a very good try-out. Instrumental in Dolman even making the try-out was his mother. Once again the mother´s play a huge part in the career´s of young players. “The entire tryout process is quite the story. I was actually in Hamburg the day before the scheduled workout attending a family matter and dealing with a groin strain. That night I got the text that I’ve got a tryout the next day in Schwenningen. All credit to my mom, she drove over 900 kilometers through the night to get me there on time. Dealing with the groin injury my physio estimated that I was operating around 55-60% during the tryout. I just put my head down and grinded, I knew this was my one opportunity and I gave it everything I could. I think my versatility at the point guard position stood out to the club. I bring size, athleticism and skill to the back court. I was able to prove that I’m a versatile defender, can play make for my teammates and am a 3 level scorer”, warned Luka Dolman. The young Canadian has signed on the dotted line in Schwenningen and now is ready to go to war every night for head coach Alen Velcic.
Luka Dolman who last watched the classic Quentin Tarantino flick Pulp Fiction was born on February 11, 2001 in Vancouver, British Columbia. His mother hails from Bad Segeberg, a town near Hamburg while his grand father still lives in Germany today and he also has relatives near the cities Berlin and Lubeck. He began his basketball career at Kitsilano high school where he averaged more than 30,0ppg. He also learned his basketball trade at the Drive basketball academy in Richmond and was the fourth best point guard in British Columbia. His time there had a huge impact in his early basketball grooming. “I have nothing but love for the coaches and players at Drive Basketball. Coach Pasha, Karn and Lucian treated me like family during my 6 years there and I have them to thank for shaping me into the player I am today. Drive is one of the top club programs in Canada and they provide the opportunity to play the best competition in North America. Every summer Drive travels to various tournaments across the United States to play the best competition possible. Playing against top American talent every year throughout my high school career has helped prepare me for the next level. Drive has played a huge part in my development as an athlete and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them”, warned Luka Dolman. Basketball in Canada has grown profusely in the last 10 years as just seeing how many Canadians play in the NBA. But also the NBL league and new CEBL league in Canada have made strides in the last years as well as the development of young players. Dolman may never have played a college game in Canada, but he mixed it up with young talent the last years. “Canadian Universities produce a ton of high level pros and I’m grateful to have been able to compete against many of them. Tevaun Kokko was the starting Point Guard for Ryerson last year and is now playing in Finland. Being able to practice with him and pick his brain on how he sees the game has helped my game tremendously. JV Mukama also from Ryerson is an overseas pro who spent time in the G-league. Playing against him along with Tanor Ngom (Ryerson player who transferred to Floridia State) in a 2019 Ryerson workout opened my eyes to the level of competition that Canada university hoops has. I’m grateful to have played alongside and against these guys”, stressed Luka Dolman.
One of the worst things about how COVID-19 has affected sports has been in the youth sector. Last season not only in basketball, but in so many other youth sector´s in German sports, the seasons were just cancelled. Having this stoppage of competition in a young player´s development is brutal. Luka Dolman was slated to play at Ryerson, but never did. He was first sidelined in 2019-2020 because of an annoying injury and last season the Canadian college basketball league was cancelled because of COVID-19. Two years of no real game competition stumped his development as did it for so many other young athletes. But like so many other guys that were in the same boat like him, all you could do was have a positive attitude and search for the positives that one had to take out of the hard situation. “Covid has been very tough but I have viewed it as a growing opportunity. Not playing in any games I have had the chance to step back and really evaluate myself as a player. I’ve worked hard on my weaknesses and turned them into my strengths. Hands down the biggest challenge was not being able to play in games and the lack of gym availability. For the majority of 2020 many gyms in my area were closed so we had to get creative in our workouts. Whether it be hill or beach workouts, I was able to find a way to stay in playing condition. Playing basketball primarily outside for the majority of 2020 has definitely been a challenge and an adjustment but at the end of the day I’m thankful I was able to continue getting better and work on my game”, said Luka Dolman. He also has done the best job possible of seeing the greater picture of COVID-19 and grown off the court through the harsh pandemic. “The pandemic has definitely helped me realize the importance of family and how not to take anything for granted. It has really put life in perspective and proved that life is short. I’m going to live every day to the fullest and “play every game like it’s my last”, warned Luka Dolman. He also knows that his game and standing today as a player could be very different had COVID-19 not interfered with everybody´s business, but he knows that he has to focus on what is now and not on what could have been. “I try very hard not to dwell on the “what ifs” in my life but of course like any human would those thoughts do creep into my mind occasionally. However I actually think I’ve become a better and smarter player overall during these 2 years. I have watched more film than ever before and have a completely new understanding and perspective of the game. My IQ is at an all time high. It’s also allowed me to discover different weaknesses in my body that I would otherwise not have discovered. I believe I am more athletic than I ever have been and I am confident that my game is better than it would have been if I had played these past 2 seasons”, expressed Luka Dolman.
Now the 20 year old 194cm guard who has Jordan, Lebron, Magic and Steph Curry on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore is preparing for his new job with the wiha Panthers. He already knows super much about his new home Germany as his mother is German. She made sure from a young age that he would be educated well on the country. He has researched German basketball more in the last months and came to the realization that the domestic competition is on par or greater than any other competition in Europe. He still has a couple months more to enjoy the summer in Canada as well as keep grinding in the gym to get better, but overal the excitement level to finally start his rookie season is massive. “I’m definitely excited, this is a huge opportunity for me and my family. It has been a dream of mine to play for my mother´s home country since I began playing basketball. it’s an incredible feeling seeing this dream come to fruition. Can’t wait to meet the guys and start competing for a championship”, warned Luka Dolman. The biggest reason why he decided to begin his rookie season with the wiha Panthers was the vision of head coach Alen Velcic. “The biggest thing for me is his passion for the game. I know that I’m going to be able to match his competitiveness and drive to win on a daily basis, a recipe I believe is essential on championship teams. Leading up to the tryout I watched a lot of Panthers games, just to get a sense and understanding of his coaching style and what he wants out of his players. As a player I know he’s going to push me to be the best player and teammate that I can be. At the end of the day we both have the same goal in mind and I’m going to go to war for him on a nightly basis”, warned Luka Dolman. The guy is young and you would think that he may feel some pressure, but he has that type of mind set as Boris Becker had when he was 17 and mowed down the competition at Wimbledon and had no idea what the word pressure meant. “I don’t feel any pressure, I’m not sure I actually believe in pressure. I believe in hard work and perfecting your craft. I’m the most happy when I’m out there competing with my teammates, so I don’t feel any pressure coming in. At the end of the day this is basketball, this is my passion and this is what I do best. I’m going to trust the work I’ve put in over the past 2 years to get back to playing and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to show what I’m capable of. The only goal I have as a rookie is to bring a Pro A championship to the city of Schwenningen”, stressed Luka Dolman.
So what type of player will German basketball fans witness with Luka Dolman who sees Lebron James as the greatest of all-time as he does everything better than Michael Jordan did against better competition? He is quick to point out that his game would best be compared to American player Cade Cunningham who is the projected 2021 #1 NBA draft pick. Dolman is an athletic big guard with the gigantic advantage of being able to look over the defense which allows him to make plays for his teammates in ways other guards can´t. He also shoots the ball very well and knows how to play above the rim. On defense, he is interchangeable at the positions 1-2 and is able to apply this special nasty pressure on defense. But that isn´t everything that one will see on the offensive end as he will bring so much more to the table in 2021-2022. “I think my biggest strength is my competitiveness and drive to win basketball games. I play with a high IQ and am unselfish. From a physical standpoint I think my biggest strength is my athleticism and what it allows me to do. With the ball in my hands my ability to create opportunities for my teammates is my biggest strength. Being taller and longer than most point guards I can see over defenses and make passes and reads other people can’t make. Defenders have to give me space which opens up opportunities from the perimeter. I´m a quick and long defender which makes me very versatile on the defensive end being able to guard 1-3”, added Luka Dolman. Not only on the offensive end does he want to be an impact player in the Pro A, but also make a splash on the defensive end. “I pride myself on the defensive end. With my size and athleticism my defense is one of my greatest strengths. Like I said I am a very versatile defender that can defend 1 through 3. I’m incredibly competitive on the defensive end and I take matchups personally. I give consistent effort and my only goal is to shut my opponent down”, commented Luka Dolman. Currently he is in Vancouver and with COVID cases declining and more gyms opening up, he will be a gym rat in the next months so when it is time to go to Schwenningen, he will be fully prepared to battle opponents. “I’m going to continue watching film and gain a better understanding of the European game so it won’t be as much as an adjustment when I start playing. I know already a lot of actions come out of the pick and roll so I’m going to incorporate that in a lot of my workouts”, warned Luka Dolman. The young Canadian/German has a very good head on his shoulder and when he is in Schwenningen in the dog days of summer in August, he won´t ever forget where he came from and how significant his family have been in his career especially his mother. “My mom and dad have been there from the beginning for me. From day 1 driving me to AAU tournaments and supporting me when I’d have a bad game, my parents have really been the backbone of my career so far. With the specific situation in Germany my mom was in a tough mental state with the family situation going on in Hamburg, I’m really not sure how she drove through the night across the country to get me there on time for my tryout. No other words than super human. I can’t thank her and my dad enough, I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. As Kevin Durant said, “she’s the real MVP”, smiled Luka Dolman. If the wiha Panther´s bus driver ever is sick or if the club needs a quick replacement on a long and tedious 937 kilometer road trip to Rostock, then Luka Dolman knows that his mom would probably jump in in an instant. The question will be if she can drive a bus. But then again she can do anything, because she is the real MVP.