D-League's Chad Toppert Earns Spot On German National Team Roster
After making a league-leading 48% of his three-point attempts this past season, though, Toppert has been able to transform his beyond-the-arc prowess in the D-League into an invite to play with the German National Team.
"Playing in the D-League this year was great exposure for me in the U.S. I came into this season as an unknown prospect and after a successful season, a lot more teams and managers know who I am and what I am about," Toppert told FanHouse. "Everyone's dream who plays basketball is to one day make it to the NBA and I am no different."
Toppert is putting his NBA dream on hold for the time being, though, as a chance to represent his family's heritage is a dream come true.
Toppert is eligible to play for Germany because he has a German grandfather, but the chance to play for the German National Team took him by surprise.
"Dirk Bauerman, head coach of Germany, discovered me after my senior season at the University of New Mexico and then he followed me this season in the (D-League) with the Thunderbirds," Toppert explained. "Once he contacted me with the possibility of joining the national team, I was honored to even be considered to join a team with so many good players."
The rest of the German team's eligible roster includes Tibor Pleiss, a 7-foot-1 center that the Oklahoma City Thunder acquired in last week's NBA Draft, as well as NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman. Neither Kaman nor Nowitzki, however, are expected to play in the upcoming FIBA World Championships in Turkey.
Though the 6-foot-6 Toppert averaged just 11.1 points as a 24-year-old rookie this past season in the D-League, his shooting -- not scoring -- is the reason he's received an invite to the German team.
"I do pride myself on shooting, as it is one aspect of my game that I do exceptionally well," Toppert said. "(Albuquerque) Coach (John) Coffino and (assistant coach) Darvin Ham had tons of confidence in me as a player and they gave me the freedom to explore my game."
While shooting is obviously his specialty, Toppert believes he's able to help his teams out in other areas as well.
"I bring a lot more to the court than just good shooting," Toppert said. "I am a high IQ basketball player who is willing to do whatever it takes to win, including taking charges and diving for loose balls."
Though he'll be representing his country this summer, Toppert's ultimate goal is still the NBA.
"I will be ready for the NBA when a team is willing to take a chance on me. The German team is going to give me great coaching and experience to help develop my game even further," Toppert said. "This season in the D-League helped me grow in every way and it has given me the confidence to know that I can compete at a very high level of basketball."
Toppert will take on his family's original last name, Toepper, in international competition, in respect to his family's heritage.