BOWLING GREEN - Josh Almanson grew up here.
He excelled as a basketball player in high school and college in his hometown.
However, for the first time in his life his hoop dreams have taken him outside of Wood County.
Almanson, 24, was listed in Bowling Green State University's 2005-06 men's basketball media guide among 10 former Falcons playing overseas.
"It was definitely a different experience," said Almanson, speaking of his recent stint in Luxembourg to play professional basketball. "I didn't go away for college, so it was fun and it was an adjustment. Everyday
living was an adjustment."
The 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward, who scored a school-record 1,256 points at Bowling Green High School and produced 1,136 points for his career at BGSU, was no longer living just a few blocks away from family and friends. Relatives and childhood companions were no longer present in the stands when he took the court.
"Actually, I spent a lot of time by myself," Almanson said. "My mom joked that I talked to her more on the phone while [in Luxembourg] than when I was living only two miles away from home when I was in college."
Almanson, who had a chance to visit places like Paris during down time, kept in touch with friends and family and followed current events in the United States by Internet and e-mail.
Almanson also found out that everyday living in a foreign country the size of Rhode Island and home to nearly 500,000 wasn't as foreign to him as he expected. Besides stores and restaurants not being open for business as often as he had been accustomed to in the U.S., living in Luxembourg didn't throw Almanson for a complete loop. Surprisingly, it even offered reminders of northwest Ohio.
The weather offered four seasons. It rained. It snowed. Sometimes it was hot. Sometimes it was cold.
Almanson said he didn't have a problem finding places that offered familiar food and drinks. Getting around wasn't difficult either.
He drove a Honda Accord issued to him by his team, A.B. Contern.
Concerns of a communication barrier didn't materialize in a place where Luxembourgish, German and French are the prominent languages.
"There were enough people there that spoke English that I could get around without having a problem communicating," said Almanson, who was the only American on the team.
And when it came time to step on the basketball court to play once-a-week, regular-season games, Almanson thrived in his first pro season. He averaged a team-leading 28.5 points a game, including a high of 40, for a team that finished 14-14.
"I scored well and looked to be more of an outside player," he said. "It was a good position to be in because everyone wants to be in the position to shoot the ball as much as possible. It was nice to have that green light."
Almanson returned home earlier this spring and has kept plenty busy.
He currently works out daily at BGSU, lifting weights and running to improve his strength and all-around conditioning. He also spends plenty of time on the basketball court.
Aaron Hillmann, BGSU's director of strength and conditioning, said Almanson ranks among the Falcons most committed to all-around conditioning during the past six years he's be at BGSU.
"Our philosophy is when you're training an athlete, nothing is over-emphasized and nothing is under-emphasized," Hillmann said. "He [Almanson] is going to take a total body approach to it.
"He's very consistent with it. A lot of the guys who have played here and have gone on and played elsewhere, we don't see them anymore. Obviously, the thing with Josh is he's from here."
Almanson, who led the Mid-American Conference in field goal percentage (59) and was third in scoring (17.2 points per game) in his senior season, also shoots hundreds of shots - from as close as point-blank range standing a foot away from the rim to as far away as a foot beyond the 3-point line. He puts time in working on his ball-handling skills and his footwork around the basket.
It's all preparation to play in the fall in a professional league in Germany that is considered to be a higher level.
"The league I'm going to is the top league in Germany," Almanson said. "It's the league Dirk Nowitzki played in before he came to the NBA.
"It's a very competitive league and it'll be a step up in competition for me."
The change in leagues will also provide an increase in salary. It's not a deal that will make Almanson wealthy, but a deal he appreciates.
"Money-wise it's pretty much what I expected," he said, opting not to be specific about the terms of his contract. "There's definitely a step up.
"It's not only a job, but it's something I enjoy doing."
Almanson considers the chance to move up a move toward the NBA.
"That remains as the ultimate goal," Almanson said. "But a lot of things are really out of your control, so I'm continuing to try and play at the highest levels I can play at."
In the meantime, Almanson intends to spend most of the summer right at home around family and friends in Bowling Green.
He's taken time this week to oversee the Josh Almanson basketball camp at the Bowling Green Community Center. Approximately 40 campers, from second-graders to eighth-graders, participated. Current Falcons guard John Floyd and former BGSU women's standout Francine Miller were among those who assisted Almanson with running the camp that emphasized "teaching fundamentals."
"We just thought it would be a good thing for the community," Almanson said. "It's my hometown and I've always thought about doing something like this. We actually thought about doing this last year, but it takes time to schedule and plan everything to make it happen."
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