The recruitment of Marten Linssen came from, essentially out of nowhere. There was very little lead up or hype to the transfer announcement or any prior speculation. It felt very much like, simply out of nowhere the 6’8 big man was posting about his commitment to SLU.
That’s because, in many ways, it did come from out of nowhere.
Linssen picked SLU sight unseen during the initial Covid-19 lockdowns while in his hometown of Dusseldorf, Germany. He never visited campus or had a face-to-face meeting with the coaching staff until he arrived in St. Louis late in July. The unique recruiting situation was just one of the obstacles college basketball coaches and recruits faced this offseason.
Last spring Linssen graduated from UNC-Wilmington with a bachelor’s in international business. Prior to his time at UNCW, he spent a year at Valparaiso. Few prospects can say they are attending their 3rd school in four years and not have immediate questions or negative connotations about their character or history. Linssen is one of the few.
After a coaching change at Valparaiso, Linssen transferred to Wilmington, he sat out a season then became an immediate impact big for the Seahawks. He then graduated a year early and began to think of his academic future. His graduation after just three years in school, and only using two years of athletic eligibility makes him an extremely unique transfer candidate. Linssen is immediately eligible to play for the Billikens and will have two seasons to play for them while he completes his MBA.
While his eligibility was immediate, Billiken fans nor he expected to be introduced to the starting lineup so early his time at SLU. With starting Center Hasahn French out with a concussion, Marten Linssen started in his first appearance with the Billikens.
“It was great. It was a different experience than I expected.” Linssen said to a group of reporters over Zoom Thursday, “But I knew I was ready for it. It felt really good to represent the Billikens.”
SLU fans got an early initiation into the Linssen playstyle in their 84-81 win over LSU. The big man highlighted his skill set with key defensive stops, high end passing, and strong paint play. For many there is a prototype for the “Euro-Big” that many thinks of, for many more there is a specific example of a big man from Germany and how he plays. Linssen doesn’t adhere to that quiet so much. As a true center, he dominates the post and uses his strength and determination to own the paint. While he is expanding his shooting range and hopes to introduce threes into his repertoire at some point in his time at SLU, it’s not quite there yet.
We will get to know Linssen on the floor in due time. His intensity and play on the floor make it understandable why Travis Ford wanted him on Team Blue. His attitude off the floor and in the locker-room make it incredibly clear what makes him a winning teammate.
Off the floor, away from the pressures, lights, and cameras of Chaifetz Arena, Linssen has taken to exploring his new city in the only way one possibly can as a college athlete in 2020. Appreciating the outdoors. Marten raves about the beauties and spaces available in St. Louis, particularly touching on how much he enjoyed (or maybe enjoys) Forest Park and some of the city’s architecture.
“It’s a really nice city. I wasn’t able to visit any schools when I transferred because of Covid,” Linssen explains “I really liked walking Forest Park, some of the other parks…I’m really impressed by how old some of the buildings are. It’s a really great place to just be.”
The was Linssen talks, with a bounce and a smile, makes it almost hard to believe that Travis Ford calls Linssen second to only Jordan Goodwin in terms of his intensity and passion for basketball.
His coaches describe him as fiercely intelligent. One of the most talkative players on the bench, a motor mouth, the first to encourage his teammates. “He brings such passion to the game at all times” Travis Ford said of the German Center during a Zoom call, “He just really impressed me from day one.” “He isn’t selfish or really care about himself, he just wants to win”.
With Hasahn French coming back from injury, Linssen’s role will change from starter to key bench player. But his impact on the team will not. Linssen has solidified himself as a key member of “Team Blue” in a short period of time, not through his play (just yet) but who he is off the court.
If you don’t believe me, ask Travis Ford yourself, “Marten is the reason I think we have a chance to be really good this season.”