Well, it's certainly been an interesting week when it comes to Big Ten Basketball. First we finally had our first taste of the season as several teams have left the country on their foreign exhibition trips, inexplicably leading to one team potentially losing a key player for the season after his arrest in France for public intoxication and vandalism. Now we have another interesting and completely unexpected story with the news that former Penn State guard D.J. Newbill was detained and interrogated in Germany due to issues with his visa.
Newbill immediately became a key player for the Nittany Lions after transferring in from Southern Mississippi, with the 6'4" Philly native being thrust into the spotlight in his first season he was eligible after a season ending injury to Tim Frazier. Newbill would go on to have a prolific career in State College, finishing his senior season with 20.7 points per game for Penn State as the team's leader and main offensive weapon. While Newbill went undrafted, he ended up signing a deal with France pro team ASVEL Basket, who also happen to be one of the more prolific clubs in French basketball.
Things got off to a rough start for Newbill, though, as he was detained and question at the airport in Germany. After some confusion on the original reporting, it appears the main reason (and issue at-hand) was related to Newbill's visa, though there have been speculations of potential racism and allegations that German officials believed his arrival in the country may have had terrorist motives.
Francois Lamy, who is a representative for the sports agency that reps Newbill, made a post on Facebook initially pertaining to the issue (note: Lamy's post was in French and later translated to English), accusing the German officials of acting in a racist manner:
This young man is African American, and has never been out of the United States before. This is the first experience that he has with Europe. An officer of the German immigration, doubted his statement that he was in Europe to play basketball. He also doubted that France was the country of final destination. Newbill was interrogated for hours. German immigration official were convinced he had a terrorist motive. I challenge anyone to dare to tell me that this is a coincidence.
Luckily for Newbill the situation was relatively quickly taken care of, with German officially eventually releasing him and Newbill making his way to Lyon to start his professional career in France. It does appear that the officials decision to question Newbill was out of the ordinary, and likely not a good first experience for Newbill out of the country, though it is reassuring that Lamy later denied the initial rumors that the officials had arrested Newbill as a terrorist suspect:
Just to correct one thing, DJ was not arrested on suspicion of terrorism, he was interrogated because of not presenting a long stay visa when entering shengen zone to play professional basketball.
The good news is that it appears all of this is behind Newbill. Now the explosive guard can take his craft to France and try to make a name for himself with the potential of a later return to the NBA. Former Penn State guard Tim Frazier was capable of turning an impressive year in the D-League into a NBA contract and is currently with the Portland Trail Blazers. While Newbill is taking a different path, there is the possibility in the future he could try his hand at the NBA once again.