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Credit: Chase Sutton

The figure behind one of the most iconic days in Palestra history has found a new home arena — and so far, he’s loving it.

On January 24th, former Penn men’s basketball point guard Darnell Foreman signed with the Uni Baskets Paderborn of the ProA League in Germany, which is the nation’s second-highest level of professional basketball behind the Basketball Bundesliga. Four games into his tenure, Foreman is averaging a team-high 15.3 points per game, stepping into an immediate leadership role similar to the one he held in Philadelphia for so many years.

“My goal coming into it was just to be myself, play my game, and try to make a positive impact on the team,” said Foreman, who is beginning his second stint in professional basketball following a brief time with the Atlanta Hawks’ NBA G-League affiliate, the Erie Bayhawks. “I just love the game, and there’s no greater joy than being back on the court, playing a real game with refs, fans, guys filming it. It’s just a different type of fun.”

As for how the point guard wound up in Germany in the first place, it came down to a timely combination of persistence and luck. In January, the Uni Baskets were struck by a season-ending injury to leading scorer and 2018 Wright State graduate Grant Benzinger, leaving them with a hole to fill at the point guard spot.

A few phone calls later, Foreman’s name was in the mix. And he’s taken off running ever since.

“[After Benzinger’s injury] they were searching around through their various networks, in Germany and abroad, to find out if there were any players available. And through my agent [Gerrit Kersten-Thiele], he did his due diligence in keeping an ear out to clubs, and he was able to link us,” the 23-year-old said. “It’s been quite the journey [since graduating Penn], with a lot of ups and downs. And it probably took longer than I expected it to, but you can never regret that or find fault in it – that’s the journey that comes with this type of profession.”

As any even casual Penn fan should remember, Foreman certainly brings a championship pedigree to the Uni Baskets. Only ten months ago, he was largely responsible for one of the best wins in school history, scoring 19 first-half points in a 68-65 win over Harvard that clinched Penn’s first March Madness appearance since 2007. 

Shortly after the final buzzer, Foreman notably sat on the Palestra rims, celebrating his team’s entrance into the history books, and proceeding to be named to the 2018 All-Ivy Tournament first team. Other highlights of his 2017-18 season included career-high averages of 10.7 points, 44.7 percent field goal shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals, and status as the only senior in the conference to earn regular season All-Ivy honors.

But no matter how one slices it, the pros are a different universe than the college game. Beyond the fact that Foreman is now playing against adults, he’s also had to adjust to a shorter shot clock and a deeper three-point line, among other rule tweaks.

“Much more physical,” Foreman said when asked about the biggest difference he’s noticed. “The refs call it more physical, so you have to be prepared for the bumps, the contact. And the shot clock here is a lot faster — now you’re playing with 24 seconds, and on offensive rebounds it resets to 14, so you gotta be crisp in every single action.”

The fact that Foreman is no stranger to helping turn a program around is good news for his new team, which held a 7-12 record when he arrived but is 2-2 since then. Beyond his aforementioned scoring average, Foreman is also shooting 51.7 percent from the field with 6.0 assists per game to boot.

“[From Penn] I learned just to keep fighting. We weren’t always a really good team, but we kept fighting, personally and collectively, and it’s the same thing with this,” Foreman said. “You’re gonna have a lot of ups and downs when you’re playing professional basketball, and you’re gonna see a lot of different personalities, and the best way to overcome those odds is to form a common goal for the club to win.”

Foreman is only under contract for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, which wraps up in late March. He has no idea what lies ahead of him, but the only certainty is that he’ll appreciate every single remaining second he gets on the floor.

“I don’t think that far ahead. I just wanna play this game for as long as I can, and I’m just focused on winning each game one at a time. When that situation [of possibly re-signing] emerges, I’ll be ready to make the right decision for me,” he said. “For me to be able to play professionally is truly a blessing. I don’t take any of it for granted, and I’m just happy for the experience.”

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