At Penn basketball practices, only one player's jersey has no number on it. That jersey belongs to Wharton freshman Lorenz Manthey.
Manthey came to America from his native Germany to do two things -- get a high-quality education and play college basketball.
So far, Manthey has achieved only one of those, as the 6'5" guard is currently prohibited from collegiate basketball by the NCAA for not having amateur status.
Manthey -- who played for a professional team in Germany -- believes that he should be able to play for the Quakers.
"I played a few games but I was not a professional," he said. "I played for a farm team and the farm team worked together with a professional team.
"I [had] no contract. I [received] no money, so I wasn't a professional. I was just asked to practice and help out. That is the only problem."
With the help of Penn Athletics Compliance Coordinator D. Elton Cochran-Fikes, Manthey is fighting with the NCAA to gain his eligibility.
Cochran-Fikes could not be reached for comment.
The Compliance Office has drafted a letter to the NCAA asking the group to lift Manthey's eligibility ban.
"The final draft of the letter that will go to the NCAA was very good," Manthey said. "I read it, and I'm confident that it's going to work out."
There is no expected date as to when the NCAA will rule on this appeal.
"I don't think that's going to happen for a couple of weeks," Penn basketball coach Fran Dunphy said. "We'll see if he can get his eligibility."
Manthey is optimistic that his letter will convince the NCAA to let him play.
"We think that once they get the letter it will not take long," he said.
In Europe, Manthey explained, it is very common for teenage basketball players to play for professional teams.
"This is a very common thing because it's not like here where there's a college league," he said. "All the young players who can go to the next level do so."
Like Manthey, several of these young European athletes play for no salary so that they can compete at the American collegiate level.
However, Manthey said that playing for free is not enough to ensure NCAA eligibility.
"The NCAA rules change every year and are quite complex, so you have to really be on top of things to know what you can and can't do," he said.
In Germany, the guard played 34 games for BCJ Hamburg in the 2001-2002 season, averaging 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds a game. He shot 16 percent from behind the arc that season.
For the 2002-2003 season, Manthey played in seven games for TXU Energie Braunschweig. For this team he averaged 2.4 points per game, shooting 50 percent from both the field and beyond the three-point line.
Manthey's best game for Braunschweig came last year on Oct. 19 against Ludwigsburg, when he scored six points, collected two steals and an assist in seven minutes.
When Manthey decided to come to America for college, he was contacted by many programs, including schools in the Southeastern and Big East Conferences.
He eventually decided that Penn was the best option.
"The basketball program has a very good name," Manthey said. "Everyone I talked to told me that the coaches are really great [and] the practices are good. They really develop players. Of course the school is great academically, too."
"In the end, Penn just fit as an overall situation," he added.
While Manthey cannot play for the Quakers, he still attends practices.
"Practicing with the team is always a good experience," he said. "We have really professional practices. I really like how the coaches set up practices. Whether I can play or not doesn't really matter because practices are still fun."Comments powered by Disqus
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