Mikesell’s confidence grows after strong season in Germany

Former Dayton star will play in France next season, but first he’ll play for Red Scare in TBT at UD Arena

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Ryan Mikesell’s first season in pro basketball lasted five quarters.

Almost a year after playing his last game with the Dayton Flyers, Mikesell began a pandemic-delayed career by signing with the Tübingen Tigers in Germany’s ProA league in February 2021. He had 11 points in his first game on Feb. 27 and had seven points in his second game March 5 but sprained his ankle and didn’t play again. He stayed in Germany for another month to rehab the injury.

“I thought I was going to come back,” he said. “I didn’t break my ankle. It was just a really bad ankle sprain, and it just kept lingering, and then I got with the organization, and I was like, ‘Listen, I would love to go back to the states and get it checked out.’”

Mikesell traveled home and had his ankle checked by UD doctors. Then he worked with Mike Mulcahey, the longtime trainer for the Dayton men’s basketball team, for two months. He was healthy enough to play in The Basketball Tournament last summer with the Dayton alumni team, the Red Scare. Then he returned to Tübingen for a second season, where he proved what he could do when healthy.

The St. Henry graduate Mikesell, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 18.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He played so well he earned a promotion from Germany’s second division to France’s top division. He signed earlier this month to play with ESSM Le Portel.

“It’s huge,” Mikesell said. “It was such a unique way for me to start my pro career with COVID and whatnot, and then it was just one thing after another, and then finally I got to a place to be in Germany, and I only played five quarters. Then I was out with that and trying to figure things out. Everything was up in the air. Then the coach is like, ‘Hey, we would love for you to come back.’ So it was kind of one of those things: go back there and see what happens. I went there and played well. We made it to the finals.”

Tübingen lost to the Rostock Seawolves in the final, but Mikesell’s performance attracted interest from other teams in Europe.

“Teams started talking to my agent,” he said. “There was interest from the highest leagues all over the world. For me, it was just all about finding the right situation to go and play and to feel comfortable again because I think that’s probably why I played so well over there. I was comfortable with the organization and the people around me. The team that I signed with, Portel, I got the same vibe.”

Mikesell said Portel’s head coach, Eric Girard, is friends with Dayton associate head coach Ricardo Greer, who coached Mikesell in his final three years at UD. Greer was inducted into the French Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017, two years after his final season. Greer played for Girard in Strasbourg and Le Havre during his career in France.

“That’s kind of how we connected,” Mikesell said. “I talked to coach Greer about it, and he said it’s a good opportunity. So I’m going with it.”

Before he returns to Europe, Mikesell will play for the Red Scare for the third straight year — this time on his old home court, UD Arena. The Dayton alumni team is the No. 3 seed in the eight-team Dayton Region and will play No. 6 seed CitiTeam in the first round at 3 p.m. July 24.

Dayton fans watching Mikesell play for the first time since March 7, 2020, when he made a 3-pointer on his final shot as a college player on Senior Night at UD Arena, will see a different player.

“I think for me it’s just my confidence,” Mikesell said. “In college, my role was a little bit different than what it is in Europe. Obviously, in college, we had so many good players. I didn’t really need to be the guy when you have a guy like Obi Toppin and Jalen Crutcher and, in my younger years, Scoochie Smith, Kendall Polllard and Dyshawn Pierre. Those guys were all-conference players. You don’t need to be the guy.

“When I went over to Tübingen, I was kind of put into a bigger role. I was forced to play with a little more confidence and to be more aggressive. My overall mindset has really changed. I’ve really shot the ball well over there. My jump shot is really improved. My overall game and overall feel for the game is improved for sure.”

After playing in the TBT, Mikesell will hold his own camp for the third straight year Aug. 6 at the St. Henry Community Center. Camp 33 is open to kids in grades three through eight.

When he returns to France, Mikesell will have to adjust to a higher level of basketball.

“From what I’ve heard talking to players and coaches and whatnot, the athleticism is just at another level,” he said. “I’d say it’s probably up there with the NBA in terms of just pure athleticism. Guys are jumping and touching the top of the backboard. They’re super fast and quick. For me, it’ll be a great challenge coming from Germany, which is more — I wouldn’t say a slower-paced game — physical. Guys are just bumping you, checking you, throwing you into the first row and stuff like that. It’s a different opportunity, and hopefully I can find my niche there and continue to have some success.”

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