There are teams throughout Europe that are littered with American players but the German League Champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg has taken the concept to a new level. The club is coming off its best season ever after an amazing playoff run that clinched them a birth in the Euroleague. The top three scorers on this team are Rickey Paulding, Je’Kel Foster, and Jason Gardner. All three are guards and under 30 years old giving EWE one of the best backcourts in Europe. Each one has a different story about how they ended up in Oldenburg but they are all happy they did. This three-headed monster will be relied upon to guide EWE through a tough Group D to the Top 16.
Rickey Paulding- Paulding was drafted in the 2nd Round of the NBA Draft out of college after paying four years at University of Missouri. He played summer league for the Pistons and then the Kings but was never able to get on an NBA roster. He played a couple of years in France before finding his niche in Germany. Paulding is the purest scorer of the group and led EWE with 14.5 points per a game. In the German League All-Star Game Paulding led the winning team with 14 points and he was named the MVP of the German League Finals after leading EWE to victory. In his downtime Pauling likes to settle down with a good book and instant message his friends from back home.
Jason Gardner- Gardner was not drafted out of college by the NBA after leading the University of Arizona to finals of the NCAA Tournament and having his jersey retired by the school. He started his European career with a rough stint in Slovenia before moving on to play in Israel and is now starring in Germany. In Oldenburg Gardner is the leader of the team as he handles the point guard duties. He led the team in assists and was third in scoring while earning the German League MVP honors for the season. Gardner should adjust well to the Euroleague as he is undersized at 5’10” but can fly up and down the court with the best guards in Europe. Gardner finds it tough to be so far away from his family back in America but has found a new family in his other backcourt mates.
Je’Kel Foster- Foster is a product of the Ohio State University where he was known as a terrific three point shooter and defender. He was not drafted but played for the Cleveland Cavaliers summer league team but didn’t make the team roster. In Europe he has played in Germany and France before coming to EWE Baskets. Foster is the spark plug of the group as Paulding is more of scoring guard and Gardner more of a point guard but Foster wraps it all into one as a combo guard. He can explode at any point in the game and averaged just under 14 points a game for the season. Foster is known as the team’s clutch performer after he hit free throws in the last seconds of the German League Finals to win the game for EWE and earn them a trip to the Euroleague. Foster misses the comfort of home but is able to relax by watching his winning free throws every night before bed.
Each of these three guards had a different journey to get to Oldenburg but they have come together to form a dynamic threesome. These three guards are the main characters in the fairy tale that is the EWE Baskets Euroleague trip, now they need a supporting cast to help them continue the story. With seven players returning from last year’s team and four spots still open EWE has a chance to surprise a lot of people next season.