Former Michigan men's basketball player Josh Asselin (1998-2001) was never sure if he would have the opportunity to play professional basketball after his graduation in 2001. He finished his Michigan career playing in 121 games, scoring 879 points, grabbing 592 rebounds and compiling 136 blocks. After taking a few months away from basketball following graduation to decide whether he wanted to play overseas, he took the plunge. What a plunge that turned out to be as he is going into a 13th year playing in Europe. Playing mainly in Spain for the last 11 years, Asselin continues to love the game of basketball and love the chance to explore new cultures and historical places.
Q. Can you talk about your career overseas?
A. "I have had a great experience playing overseas. My journey has taken me to a number of different places, but the majority of my career has been spent in Spain, where I played for 11 years. Besides Spain I have played in the NBDL (Roanoke, Va.), France, Venezuela, Ukraine, Puerto Rico and Iran for a tournament that was in Jordan. I played in one Euro Cup on a Spanish team; we traveled all over Europe, playing different teams from different countries. I have played for the Dominican National Team and competed in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela (pre-Olympic Qualifier) and against Team USA in a friendly game in Las Vegas. Stateside, I participated in a number of workouts for NBA teams and in Summer League with the San Antonio Spurs and went to vet camp with the Golden State Warriors. I feel that the highlights of my experiences are being able to see the world and pursue my dream of playing basketball on a professional level at the same time, in addition to experiencing new cultures, meeting people from all over the world and developing friendships on and off the court."
Q. Where are you currently playing?
A. "Right now I am waiting to sign with a team. I just finished my contract with the Spanish club I was with, and I am looking at a few possible options for the upcoming season."
Q. Did you ever think you would have a long, successful career?
A. "After I finished my career at Michigan I wasn't sure what was going to happen as far as basketball goes. I got my degree and was giving it a couple of months to see if there was an opportunity to try my options overseas and see if I could join a team there. After my first agent was unable to find me a job I switched agents and had a job in two days. The rest is history."
Q. You have become fluent in Spanish. Have you learned any other languages?
A. "Yes, I am fluent in Spanish. I still make some mistakes here or there but only little ones. I took four semesters of Spanish at Michigan and my professor Andrew Noverr was extremely helpful and patient working with me. Once I was thrown into the culture and had to speak it on my own to get around, I started to use it more and more. Now with my wife being Spanish, we normally speak Spanish at home and with all the years living here, I have become fluent. I learned a little French when I was living in France, but it has been so many years and if you don't use it sometimes it is hard to remember. I just began to study French again to see if I can learn to be fluent in it also. "
Q. What are places that people must see when they come to visit you?
A. "It always depends on where I am. Every place you go has its own points of interest like restaurants and other places to go sight-seeing, so it is hard to say. The last couple of years I have been about 40 minutes from Barcelona and for me that was a MUST see for everyone that came to visit. History, restaurants, sight-seeing, beaches, great weather; there are so many things to do it is an amazing city."
Q. How is the game different overseas, in terms of the crowds, the ball, etc.?
A. "There are some different regulations overseas. For example, if the ball is bouncing on the rim you can go and hit it off the rim and in the States that would be goaltending. When I first came overseas the lane lines were more like a trapezoid, which made the paint larger. The three-point line is in between college and NBA, too. The ball can vary depending on where you play. Some have colored panels, or more grip, or could be softer or harder depending on where you play. I think every league has its own style of ball. And the crowds are amazing. Some places are more relaxed, and others are out of control, but they really live and feel the game."
Q. What are some of your memories from going to school in Ann Arbor?
A. "I remember it like it was yesterday. My years at Michigan were amazing. All of the great people that I met along the way, all of the professors that pushed me to be the best, the Big House, Crisler Arena, Mr. Spots, Pizza House, Maize and Blue Deli, all of the great restaurants and late-night snack spots after getting home late from a road trip. It was one of the best times of my life."
Q. What are some of your greatest memories from playing basketball at Michigan?
A. "For me the greatest memory playing basketball at Michigan was winning the Big Ten Tournament and the Puerto Rico Shoot Out my freshman year. I have many games that stick out in my mind, also a lot of travel stories from our road trips. I had an amazing group of talented players around me, and we always had great dynamics."
Q. Have you continued to follow the team?
A. "Yeah, I do follow the team, mostly over the internet. Once in a while they show a game on the television here in Spain, but mostly I pay attention through the internet. During the tournament the last couple of years I was able to watch more games and really enjoyed it."
Q. What do you think of the team's recent run of success?
A. "It is great for the program, the fans, and really exciting to watch. Growing up I watched Michigan with Rumeal Robinson winning the championship, the Fab Five going to the tournament, and these last couple of years brought back a number of memories and provided possible dreams for young kids like it did for me to play at that level, at Michigan. It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine!"
The recently created Office of Alumni Engagement strives to foster a community, recognize the holistic student-athlete and honor the great Michigan Athletics history. This alumni spotlight illustrates the impact that our alumni are having around the world and how they stay engaged with Michigan.