Logan Aronhalt embarks on new challenge with third-division Italian team


(Associated Press)

Logan Aronhalt last visited Italy his senior year at Zanesville High School in Ohio, when the Blue Devils flew over together for a foreign tour. They landed at the airport, deplaned and were immediately whisked away by host families, reuniting only for nightly games.

Aronhalt’s host family knew almost no English, but whenever he soldiered into the apartment around midnight, weary from another outing on the Italian hardwood, the mother arched her eyebrows, stared at Aronhalt and asked one of the phew words she knew.

“Hungry?”

Soon, Aronhalt stuffed himself with three- or four-course meals. Pasta, chicken cutlets, “nothing crazy,” he said. There was always gelato at the end.

In less than a month, the former Maryland guard will return to Italy, 30 miles from where he suited up back in high school. This week, playing at a showcase in Las Vegas designed to match stateside talent with overseas suitors, Aronhalt inked a 10-month contract with Assigeco Casalpusterlengo, a third-division Italian team. “It’s a good salary for someone getting a job out of college,” Aronhalt said, declining to give a specific amount. But the team covers his rent, utilities and transportation. He leaves Aug. 15.

Aronhalt played just one season with the Terrapins after transferring from Albany for a graduate year. He endeared himself to Maryland fans, especially those who arrived hours early at Comcast Center for home games to watch Aronhalt drain half-court shots like they were free throws.

But his contributions hinged almost entirely on opposing defenses. He was deadly against the zone, capable of spotting up or curling off screens, shooting 43.4 percent from three last season. But against man-to-man schemes, Maryland had little use for an off-ball guard with an ailing back. So he played 31 minutes and scored 26 points against Boston College one night, then lasted just nine minutes the next. He averaged 14.2 minutes and six points per game last season.

With Casalpusterlengo, Aronhalt enters an eerily similar situation to the one he found in College Park. The Italian squad, which finished fourth in its division last year, fields five players born in the 1990s, included two born in 1995 or later.

“I’m going to be one of the older guys on the team, but I think anytime they bring in imports they expect to score and be one of the better players. I’ll be doing a lot more scoring than I’ll be doing at Maryland,” Aronhalt said. “Then again I’ll have to be an older guy, an elder statesmen of sorts.”

It’s a fitting role for the player several Terps reporters affectionately called “Old Man Basketball.” He figured he’d leave in early September, but everything with Casalpusterlengo materialized quick. Now he has to return from Las Vegas, move out of his College Park apartment, drive home to Zanesville, apply for a visa and pack for Italy. He took three weeks off after the 2012-13 season ended, and says his back, which sometimes required mid-game treatment, is in good shape.

Aronhalt, the first Maryland player since 2001 to earn all-ACC academic honors, has been hanging around Comcast Center this summer, taking two summer statistics classes and occasionally playing pickup games with his former teammates. He says he’s six credits shy of a master’s degree in kinesiology, and plans to return next summer to finish his coursework. And if professional basketball didn’t work out, he would have returned to Maryland as a graduate assistant in the strength and conditioning department.

“That was the second option,” he said. “It’s great basketball over there. There are first division guys in Milan making a million dollars a year. If I can move up to the second division, or even the first in Italy or Spain, something like that, that’d be awesome.”

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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