The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Basketball Alum Shoots for NBA D-League

It’s not often that a Division III school produces professional basketball players, but Grinnell College is not the type of school to follow social norms. Keith Chamberlain ’08 is an excellent example of Grinnell’s unique ability to allow students to pursue a variety of life paths after Grinnell, including now towards professional basketball.

Photograph contributed. Keith Chamberlain ’08 makes a move to get around his defender.

When Chamberlain first began looking at colleges, playing basketball was far from important in his mind. Even after his first visit to Grinnell, Chamberlain certainly could not imagine spending his next four years in Iowa.

“I only played in high school over my senior year and Grinnell actually came to my attention academically,” Chamberlain said. “There’s a program known as LINK Unlimited that academically introduced inner-city kids to different schools and a bus took 45 kids or so to Grinnell. After my first trip, I went home and told my parents that I didn’t want to go to Grinnell, being in the middle of Iowa and all.”

However, a chance encounter on his second visit to Grinnell as part of a diversity trip was enough to change his mind towards both basketball and Grinnell.

“On Multicultural Weekend, I was checking out the main gym back then when the basketball team had an open gym,” Chamberlain said. “So when a six-foot-eight guy walked in to open gym, the coach wanted to know who I was. After scrimmaging with the team and playing against several recruited players at a Sunday workshop, the coach told me that he thought I could play Division I.”

Chamberlain chose not to go Division I, instead coming to Grinnell where he played as a forward, putting up impressive numbers under Coach David Arseneault’s offensively-focused direction. With his intimidating stature and long reach, Chamberlain sits at number seven on the Midwest Conference’s record books for average number of blocked shots over the span of his career at 1.3 blocks per game.

After graduating from Grinnell in 2008, Chamberlain went on to play professional basketball in Germany and Latvia.

“In my senior year, assistant coach Gary Schmidt was doing coaching clinics overseas, so he pulled up his connections and they thought that I had enough talent to play in Germany, so that’s how I found my first team,” Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain considered playing in Europe incredibly rewarding, given the circumstances under which he was able to do so.

“It’s amazing knowing that I was able to go there and play [coming] from a Division III team and having only played my senior year in high school,” Chamberlain said. “They were paying me to play the game that I love.”

Chamberlain’s fond experiences of playing at Grinnell were important factors in his decision to play abroad after his graduation.

“I had a great time playing [at] Grinnell,” Chamberlain said. “I honed my shooting ability from my mid-range jump shot and I shot a lot of threes, which really expanded my playing skills as a six-foot-eight player.”

By avoiding the stereotypical limitations of a big player, Chamberlain gained a leg up on his European competition.

“The smaller Euro players also played the same shooting style, but they couldn’t match my size,“ he said.

Traveling out of the country for the first time was a shock to Chamberlain, who had to adjust to his new German team, culture and language.

“It was my first time out of the country when I played for Rattelsdorf [a German professional team]. I didn’t know what to expect,” Chamberlain said. “It was a really good situation, though. I had really cool teammates who made sure everything was okay.”

Beyond playing together, Chamberlain’s teammates did their best to make him feel at home across the ocean.

“They showed me how to get from place to place and the team even set me up with a class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I could learn the language and culture,” Chamberlain said.

After playing with Rattelsdorf and a Latvian team, Jelgava, Chamberlain decided it was time to return home and try his hand in the NBA Developmental League—the official minor league basketball organization for the NBA.

“I was getting a little older and I had a lot more experience,” Chamberlain said. “I was working a lot on my game and I was ready to play at the next level.”

Chamberlain tried out for the Iowa Energy, which is the NBA’s Development League affiliate of the New Orleans Pelicans, where his cousin, former NBA number-one-overall draft pick Anthony Davis, plays. Chamberlain has been working out with Davis and is not afraid to take advantage of the resources that an NBA team offers.

“I’ve been working out with [Davis] and the team nutritionist,” Chamberlain said. “I’m doing the same professional workout as the NBA [players], and it gives me a lot of confidence.”

Chamberlain will hear back from the Iowa Energy in a few weeks and is hoping to be invited to their developmental camp. In the meantime, Chamberlain has kept in touch with Coach Arseneault, fondly tracing the path the Pioneers set him on.

“It was a great team and I had great coaches,” Chamberlain said. “Without Grinnell, I wouldn’t be where I am at today. Now let’s hope we can win a conference championship!”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *