Asbjoern Midtgaard (213-C-1997, college: GCU) is a 24 year old 213cm center from Helsingor, Denmark playing his rookie season with Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden (Holland-BNXT League). He began his basketball career with the Horsholm 79ers (Ligaen). He then played three seasons with Wichita State University (NCAA) playing 65 NCAA games. He played his senior year with Grand Canyon State University (NCAA) playing 24 games averaging 14.2ppg, 9.6rpg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 73.1%, FT: 71.8%. In the summer of 2021 he played NBA Summer League with the Orlando Magic playing 4 games averaging 4.0ppg, 3.0rpg. He spoke to egermanhoops.com before the FIba Europe Cup quarterfinal game against the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim in Leiden.
Thanks Asbjoern for talking to germanhoops.com. After playing 66 NCAA games with Wichita State and 24 games with Grand Canyon State, you are back in Europe now playing with Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden (Holland-BNXT League). Your having a great season averaging 15/8 in the BNXT league and 15/7 stats in the Fiba Europe Cup. How are you a better player today than before you played at Wichita State?
After my time in college, I’m definitely a better player then I was when I first got there. I learnt a lot and improved a lot over those 4 years. I can’t say what specifically has changed, but I’ve put in a lot of hours in the gym and it is starting to pay off.
You recently won the Dutch Cup. What kind of a feeling was that for you and what is special about the Leiden team this season?
It was awesome to win the cup, a great way to set the tone for the season!
You have a Fiba Europe Cup quarterfinal battle against Crailsheim. How aware are you of the tiny TJ Shorts? Your game under the hoop could play a big role between win and loss.
TJ is a really talented player, does it all for his team definitely one of our emphasis for the game. I’ll just do what I can, and what the team needs!
You began to play very late at age 14. Who were your early basketball role models and to what current player would you compare your game today?
Yes I started when I was 14 and just played for fun at first. Early on I looked at Jonas Valanciunas, and I still do. I really like his game.
Before basketball you played sports like Handball, weightlifting and judo. Were you able to incorporate any aspects of those sports that you feel has helped your basketball game over the years?
I did a lot of things before basketball yes, and I think I’m some way they all helped me to become more athletic at least. They probably didn’t do much for my basketball skills.
You are a big man that can score and rebound. What other offensive strengths do you have?
I have worked on my shot quite a bit, and I do shoot from time to time as well. But my inside game is my bread and butter.
You have size and can block shots. Do you se yourself becoming as efficient on the defensive end as you are on the offensive end in the future?
I always want to be as effective as I possible, so yes that is something I want to be as well.
On what area’s of your game are you working on most now as you continue to develop your game and move up the basketball ladder?
I work on everything, it is hard to say a specific area. But as a more modern big, it important to be able to attack the floor and be a threat outside too.
You began your career at Horsholm 79ers (Ligaen) already getting good minutes at age 17 and in three years played 91 Danish first division games. What memories do you have of that time? You seemed to make a big jump in your last season there.
In Denmark and anywhere else I e always tried to improve every year. And that hasn’t changed. But yes I got some more responsibility in that last year and I think I responded well.
You only got limited minutes at Wichita State. Despite not playing as much, what positives could you take from the experience?
I learned a lot about work ethic and determination. That nothing is given to you and that you have to go out there and take it yourself. And I met a lot of great people who I still talk to today
What memories do you have of reaching the NIT Final 4 in 2019 with Wichita State? How tough was it digesting the loss to Lipscomb?
The NIT run was so much fun! We had a rough start that year, so to finish with such a great run in the NIT was just amazing.
You were teammates with current LA Laker Austin Reaves who is a starter and playing along side Lebron James. Did you ever think that he could reach the NBA in 2017?
I have only good things to say about Austin! I knew he was special, and that the sky was the limit for him, so I’m not surprised at all at what he is doing for the Lakers now, well deserved.
You played your senior year at Grand Canyon State (NCAA) averaging 14.2ppg, 9.6rpg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 73.1%, FT: 71.8%. What steps did your game make in that season?
My time at GCU was some of the most fun I’ve had with basketball, the people involved made the difference. Teammates, managers, coaches and staff were all amazing. I knew it was my last year, so I had to give it all I had.
How did head coach Bryce Drew groom and prepare you for a professional basketball career?
He played professionally himself so he helped me a lot with the process necessary to succeed in life as a pro, not only on the court but also off the court. But not just him it was all of the coaches.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Alessandro Lever?
Ale is a great player! But I gotta go with me on this one
In 2021 you played NBA Summer League with the Orlando Magic. What kind of an experience was that? What do you remember being the best advice that you got from the coaching staff?
Summer league was so much fun, to be able to get my name out there was huge and hopefully it not the last time I’m involved with NBA activities
Did you meet or see any NBA legends hanging around the facilities? How did you soak up the whole atmosphere?
I got to meet a lot of cool people, who all helped me. With great advice and coaching.
Do you have any advice for young big men playing in the NBA Summer League? How disappointing is it that the Summer League is more a display of guards trying to score as much as possible?
Well you have to take it as it comes, and when the opportunity shows itself take advantage of it.
Who was the best player that you played against in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
I have played with a lot of good players who are on the NBA now. But I got to play against Trae Young my first year in college.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
I can’t point out only 5, that is not possible.
Please name your NBA Mount Rushmore?
My Mount Rushmore in no particular order is Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kareem and Magic
Will Luka Doncic be in the same class with a Jordan, Lebron and Kobe in 15-20 years?
I think Luka is an incredible player who will without a doubt be among the greats one day. But only time will tell how great.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was a Netflix movie called Eurovision with Will Pharrell, it’s pretty funny.
Thanks Asbjoern for the chat.