Sports

Alumnus competes professionally in Europe

Alumnus Max Hopfgartner has made his professional debut playing for Club Xuventude Baloncesto, part of Liga Española de Baloncesto Silver in Cambados, Spain.

The 6 foot 9 forward from Austria graduated from JBU with not only a degree in renewable energy engineering but also the discipline and versatility to succeed in a competitive sport.

“Clark Sheehy, former JBU men’s basketball coach, told me that I would be coaching the best post player in the Sooner Athletic Conference, and he was right,” Jason Beschta, John Brown University’s men’s basketball coach, said about Hopfgartner.

Beschta coached Hopfgartner during his senior year and saw his dedication to develop himself to a well-rounded player.

Hopfgartner had the ability to shoot from the three-point line and inside the paint for a two-point shot. Hopfgartner became a force as other teams found it difficult to guard such a versatile player with the combination of shooting and ball handling skills, Beschta said.

Hopfgartner ended the 2014-2015 season with 22 blocks and an average of 8.3 rebounds and 17.5 points per game. He was also recognized for his performance with an NAIA All-American honorable mention and All Sooner Athletic second team.

This discipline to be the best was not only seen by the coaches but also from some of his teammates, who said that he led by example.

“One of the things you came to see about Hopfgartner is that he was very driven and that he wants to be the best he can be in whatever he does,” Nate Anderson, senior men’s basketball player and Hopfgartner’s teammate for three years, said. “He’s a very hard worker… I think that’s why he is where he is today.”

Hopfgartner played for the Austrian National League the summer between his junior and senior year at the University. Scouts wanted to sign Hopfgartner during his senior year, but he wanted to explore his options.

Hopfgartner will continue preseason play with the LEB League, the third-highest in Spain, in August and regular season in October.

“To be able to land on a team in Spain allows Hopfgartner a better potential to improve and grow where he can continue to move up the levels,” Beschta said. “He’s living the dream of getting to do this as a job. That’s not an easy thing. He’s doing something he loves and you can’t beat that.”

Over the course of his JBU basketball career, Hopfgartner scored over 1,000 points, earning this title along with many other University athletes his senior year. For Hopfgartner, his future seems bright as he grinds to be the best player on the court out of pure passion and love for the game.

Hopfgartner said to Sara Lachance, sports information assistant for John Brown University athletics, “Playing professionally gives me a chance to do something I love for a living. It allows me to be competitive on a daily basis, travel parts of the world I wouldn’t usually go to and brings me joy to see fans, especially little kids, find so much happiness watching us play.”