Julian Routh | News Editor
Four thousand four hundred and thirty nine miles.
That’s how far former Duquesne basketball player Andre Marhold is from the A.J. Palumbo Center, where he wrapped up his college hoops career a little over a year ago.
The 23-year-old is currently in St. Polten, Austria, a town 45 minutes outside of Vienna, and things are quite different. For starters, the streets are cleaner and less police patrol them, plus the stores close early.
But the biggest change, and perhaps the most exciting, is that Marhold has finally found his confidence on the court.
“I feel like I’m the most athletic player in the league,” he says.
That league, the Austrian Basketball League, is one of the few leagues overseas where players go to hone their talents in hopes of someday being ready for the NBA. Marhold, who has the NBA in his sights, says that for a player with his skills, “you have to go overseas.” That’s just part of the journey.
Marhold’s journey started at North Mecklenburg High School in Huntersville, N.C, where he was the star. He averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds per game as a senior, earning him a spot in the 2009 Carolinas All-Star Basketball Classic in Socasatee, S.C.
From there, Marhold, a three-star recruit, accepted an offer to play for Duquesne under Coach Ron Everhart. He barely saw any playing time as a freshman in 2009, but as a sophomore, he was part of a Duquesne squad that won 11 straight games and made it to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
It was in his junior and senior years that Marhold, a 6-foot-7 power forward, emerged as a key contributor. He started 22 games as a junior, averaging 5.1 points and 4 rebounds per game and leading the team with 40 blocks and 22 dunks. As a senior, he led the Dukes in rebounding (5.6 rpg) and blocks (50) and was second in field goal percentage (.518) and 3-pointers made (32). Marhold ended his career at Duquesne fifth on the school’s all-time blocked shot list with 107.
“At Duquesne, even though we had our ups and downs, I was definitely a team player,” Marhold says. “I definitely wanted to win, and I definitely played with passion. I tried to do whatever I had to in order to get better and have a chance to win.
“But I felt I was limited.”
Duquesne never got to see the best Andre Marhold. The style of play prevented Marhold from “playing my game,” he says. He had trouble adjusting to Everhart’s motion offense, a style that forces players to adapt to different situations by improvising plays.
It’s an offense that takes a lot of “basketball IQ,” something that Marhold says he didn’t have much of when he played for the Dukes.
That wasn’t the only thing Marhold would have to improve if he wanted to become an elite player. He would also have to work on dribbling, shooting and footwork, according to trainer Pete Strobl.
“A lot of players forget to work on the little stuff, and only do the flashy stuff,” Strobl says. “Andre realized he couldn’t just be a dunker.”
Marhold started training with Strobl last summer at Strobl’s gym, The Scoring Factory in Oakland. At the gym, Marhold was the type of guy who was always encouraging other players and giving high-fives, strength and conditioning coach Rob Southall recalls.
And he was willing to put in the work.
“You tell him to do something, he’s going to do it until you tell him to stop,” Southall says. “Andre was in fabulous shape. He’s a freak, as far as athleticism.”
Marhold’s athleticism was a spectacle at the gym. Training partner Antonio DiMaria, a former professional basketball player in Spain and the United Kingdom, remembers Marhold as “the most athletic guy on the floor every time he steps on it.”
Strobl, who also played professionally, says Marhold is in the upper echelon athletically.
“Andre is a special human,” Strobl says. “This is a guy who would literally practice all day if there was an opportunity. The kid must burn 20,000 calories a day. His work ethic is superhuman, and he’s a great student. He’s one of those guys who makes the teacher look like a genius.”
While training with Strobl, Marhold was in constant contact with his agent, who he had hired in the spring. His agent told him he would be leaving for Austria in September, but that date eventually got pushed back until February.
In the meantime, the agent, who also had Marcus Camby of the New York Knicks, was trying to get Marhold on a summer squad with the Knicks, because “sometimes, agents tell you whatever you want to hear.”
Marhold is currently without an agent, but he might not be for long. Gerrit Kersten-Thiele, CEO of Scorers 1st Sportmanagement, has been following Marhold since he started training with Strobl, and thinks Marhold has the athleticism to play for years to come.
“He’s a determined player who is doing all the right things to put himself in a great position,” Kersten-Thiele says. “We really like that in players. And what he’s doing in Austria shows us he can come in and produce immediately.”
What Marhold is doing in Austria is playing his game, the one he never got a chance to play at Duquesne. In eight games with the Dragons, he is averaging 14 points and 8.8 rebounds, and has scored in double digits six times.
“I have a lot on my shoulders, but I am focused on going off,” Marhold says. “I want to show everyone that I am talented enough to play in the league overseas and actually dominate.”
Therein lays the triumph; those who are around Marhold in the gym and on the court already know he is talented enough to play at a high level.
But this time, Marhold actually believes it himself.