Not All Talented German Kids in The Basketball World Are Players As 20 Year Tom Walther Is Showing With The Tigers Tuebingen

How often have we heard about how talented a young athlete is? Those big time gems seem to be all over the place, but to be honest sometimes it’s more the parents wanting to think that their kid is that 1 in a million. But then again there are those really talented kids that got on the scene at a young age like a Ricky Rubio who played his first Euroleague game at age 14 or a Lional Messi who joined FC Barecleona at age 14 signing on a napkin. You see these young phenoms in all sports and in the last years also in German basketball as guys like Isaiah Hartenstein and Franz Wagner demonstrated in very young years that they were very special on the court. But there are also other really talented German kids in basketball that aren’t wooing everyone with their shooting or dunking, but are actually giving their 2 cents on the sidelines. 20 year Tom Walther is one of these guys. There have been other young German head coaches in Germany like a Thorsten Leibenath or Bjoern Harmsen that reached the highest level, but has there ever been a 20 year old German assistant coach in the German second division (Pro A)? I think I need to check the Guinness Book of World Records if there is any information about this. ‘ I didn’t check but I can imagine there aren’t many coaches that young in pro Basketball. But for me it’s not about records, I’m just happy about the opportunity’, stressed Tom Walther . The German basketball scene is a small one and it didn’t surprise me when I learned that Tom Walther not only knew Fabian Beierlein another German guy that is a basketball workaholic and probably knew Dashaun Wood’s stats in 2011 better than the ex Wright State guard himself when he wasn’t even a teenager yet, but is friends with the Bayreuth native. ‘Fabian is one of my really close friends even if we talk mostly through the phone, because of the distance. We discuss almost all things that come with basketball and he was also involved in my decision to sign in Tuebingen. It’s always nice to meet him’, said Tom Walther . Tom Walther is proving that not all talented German kids connected to basketball have to be basketball players as he is working with the Tigers Tuebingen.

I reach Tom Walther last summer on a steamy hot day in August as he was enjoying the last days at home in Leipzig as well as was working out with friend Grant Teichmann of the Dresden Titans before heading to Tuebingen for his new basketball adventure. I had always known about him but other than assuming he was a teenage basketball fan, I knew nothing about him. That changed very quickly when I saw his name under basketball highlight videos for players on You Tube and when I saw him behind the bench for the BSW Sixers last season. ‘I think I started doing highlight videos sometime in 2019, just for fun. I did youth coaching already before but it helped me to build a good worldwide network. Over time I started to work with different agencies, mainly for Matt Slan from Slan Sports’, commented Tom Walther . He was born on October 30th, 2002 and knew pretty rapidly that basketball was in his blood, but more on the bench than on the court. He began his coaching career in Leipzig with USC Leipzig in 2016 when he was 13 years old. He was an assistant coach for the Leipzig U-12 and U-14 teams and later was head coach for the Leipzig U-15 and U-16 teams. He joined the organization in 2016 in a time where there was much turmoil going around, but he stuck through it. ‘When I began it was a hard time, but in 2016 I was a teenager who helped in youth basketball without the knowledge of a basketball organization that I have today’, stated Tom Walther . Getting his first break in the coaching business in Leipzig was massive and he will never forget who was most instrumental for him then. ‘Dominik Braun, Head of department of USC Leipzig, was the most important person for me. I was his assistant coach for years in u12 und u14 basketball and he was one of the main reasons why I stuck to basketball and became the coach that I am today. In 2020-2021 he gave me the chance to be a head coach in youth basketball for the first time. He was trusting me and I know I can always ask him for advice’, remembers Tom Walther . He also recently got his primary school degree from the Friedrich-Schiller-Schule Leipzig.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Tom Walther in Rhondorf in 2021

The ex eenager who believes that 4 time NBA winner Steph Curry is the best shooting point guard of all-time then got another break and for the first time got out of his comfort zone of being at home and working with USC Leipzig and landed a job with Pro B team BSW Sixers in Sandesdorf. This was his first real introduction to men’s basketball at a higher level. It was a lot of learning by doing and the players that didn’t know him right away must of thought ‘what is this kid doing here and giving me orders’. But in the end the club experienced a good season reaching the playoffs sweeping Erfurt and then losing a tough 3 games series to ambitious organization Wolmirstedt. ‘ It was a crazy experience. I knew nothing about pro basketball coaching in the beginning and I was younger than most of the players. But Coach Chris Schreiber gave me the chance to develop myself and to grow into the role as an Assistant Coach. I learned pretty fast how to prepare the opponent and I learned something new basically every week and every game. I’m really thankful for that opportunity’, stressed Tom Walther . When your young, it is always vital to soak in as much as possible and that is exactly what he did learning as much as possible from Darren Stackhouse, the younger brother of NBA legend Jerry Stackhouse. ‘Darren was one of the main reasons why I started to work for the Sixers in late September 2021. He was supposed to be the Sixers Assistant coach but as he also was JBBL AC for MBC and worked with me together in Leipzig’s youth basketball so there wasn’t much time left for Pro B. So he really pushed the idea of me also coaching in Pro B and we both ended up on the coaching staff of Chris. I won’t forget his humor and our meals after the Pro B home games, together with player Sven Papenfuss’, commented Tom Walther .

The kid who has Lebron James as his personal GOAT now has taken on new challenge with Pro A club Tigers Tuebingen. A few years ago the Tigers Tuebingen was a former easyCredit BBL team that was declining and being forgotten in the Pro A. But all of a sudden with the emergence of rising coach Danny Jansson, the club belongs to the top teams in the Pro A. Last season they earned moving back to the BBL, but opted to remain in the Pro A. It was a no brainer that he would join this organization when a guy like Jansson comes calling. ‘Our first contact was last summer when Danny sent a message to my highlight page, asking for a video for a press release of Tuebingen. I used the chance to introduce myself as a coach and after I saw that last year’s AC Hussain Dassouki wasn’t coming back for this season I reached out to Danny and after a meeting in Tuebingen and multiple phone calls we’re working together now ‘, remembered Tom Walther . Sometimes you have to be aggressive like a point guard to get some success and that is exactly what he did in keeping the contact with Jansson. When your 35 and get your first assistant coaching job in the Pro A, you will be happy, but when your 19 years, the feeling must be like a boy in a candy story. ‘I’m really excited and I can’t wait to start working. I visited Danny and the Tigers organization earlier this summer, they gave me a really good feeling and I felt welcome straight from the beginning. I expect a really good and competitive league this season, you can win or lose every game. Last years Pro B felt already really competitive but in Pro A you typically have better Germans and you’re also allowed to have more import players on the court which will be interesting to see and to scout.’, said Tom Walther last summer. In the few talks and live conversations that he has had with Jansson, he has got to know a honest and hard working man that also knows when to have fun. But getting more experience doesn’t stop with Jansson as he also will be working together with assistant coach Hanot Zabaleta Carro. ‘It’s always good to have more experienced guys around you. Hanot is responsible for our S&C, a part of coaching that I haven’t done so far, so I’m looking forward to learn from him in this aspect. But life is more than basketball so I’m interested in learning more about him and the Spanish culture in general’, expressed Tom Walther . The young German is part of the success of the Tigers Tuebingen as they are in second place with a 19-7 record chasing Rasta Vechta.

It is interesting to see that some of his biggest coaching influences aren’t the big legends like Pesic, Blatt or Aito, but moreover guys like Simon Cote, Pete Strobl and Chris Schreiber. He also enjoys listening to podcasts from around the world with various coaches to attain different knowledge. He understands that being an assistant coach in the Pro A isn’t only a step up in level, but also in how he has to prepare in comparison to what he saw last season with the Sixers. ‘ I think the biggest difference is the versatility of the players. In Pro B it was often possible to categorize players in one play type. Also the Pro A is having more games, so my time management for the reports and videos will be different’, stated Tom Walther . 30 years ago watching film was a lot more difficult than today as you can find a lot more easy access to watching players online. One thing is for sure, he has watched many highlight films in the last years. ‘The biggest strength is that I love to watch basketball, that way it’s easy for me to watch a lot of video and to focus on different aspects of the game. I also found a way to work fast and effective when it comes to cutting and editing the footage’, added Tom Walther . Being versatile is a massive trait for any player and it isn’t any different as a coach. ‘I want to establish myself as a Coach which means improving in all aspects of coaching, video wise, individual wise, teaching wise and also in S&C aspects’, warned Tom Walther . The last years he worked very hard off the court to get his German high school degree and his schooling hasn’t stopped yet. He plans to continue his studies in Stuttgart despite also having his coaching duties with the Tigers Tuebingen. He just can’t say no to an extra challenge. ‘ It will be a huge challenge, especially in the beginning. Fortunately there will be the chance to work from home and online for university, that way I’ll be able to attend morning practices. I’ll surely miss some practices but I won’t be a rare face in the gym. For me personally it is important to get a degree to have a plan b, in case coaching isn’t working out for me in the future’, warned Tom Walther . He is very smart for 20 having a plan B ready. But he showed once before that he can shuffle school and basketball and I’m certain he will do it again. He has been on a mission since he was 13 and so far everything has worked out. Why shouldn’t it continue in Tuebingen? The Tigers Tuebingen are also on a mission and together they will conquer all.

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