Mike Daum has had great success throughout his career and has seen a significant progression in his game. With his latest experience playing professionally in Spain, his NBA dreams are still very much alive.
Daum first thought of playing professionally during his senior year at South Dakota State University. He averaged 11.7 rebounds and 25.3 points per game to finish as the seventh all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I history.
“I had no idea until about my senior year,” said the 6-foot-9 forward from Kimball, Nebraska. “It’s definitely something that’s new for me, but I’m glad to just go along with the process.”
Daum never imagined himself playing overseas, but he has enjoyed the experience.
“It’s been fantastic to come over here and just have something different. But at the same time, it still feels very familiar,” Daum said.
The transition to professional basketball has been real for Daum, now entering his second season for Monbus Obradorio in Liga ACB, one of the world’s best professional leagues. He said the change of pace and the shot clock is a lot faster than it was in college, and the style of play is different than in the states.
But, the pace of the game wasn’t the only transition Daum has gone through.
“I think the biggest thing for me was the language barrier,” Daum said. “At the end of the day, it was just me wanting to submerge myself into a different culture.”
Practicing during the pandemic has also been a transition for Daum.
“The gym is kind of like a bubble for us,” Daum said.
Players don’t have to wear masks in the gym, knowing everyone has tested negative for COVID-19. Coaches, however, are still wearing masks during practice and are social distancing from players.
“It’s good to know that everyone’s doing their part over here to make sure that they’re staying safe and keeping everyone else safe,” he said.
Since the coronavirus began impacting Spain, Daum has been continuing to work on his game to prepare for the Liga ACB season’s start Sept. 18. He’s mainly been working on his foot speed, quickness and strength. The season runs around eight months, ending in May.
Since he left SDSU, Daum has become more confident in his game, and has improved over the past couple of years.
“Throughout those two years, I definitely have found myself being more reassured in my confidence,” Daum said. “Overall, right now, I would just say I’m such a more confident person with everything that I do.”
Spain has made Daum a more versatile player as well, further adding to his confidence. He said that coaches are letting him play multiple positions, allowing him to grow as a player and show that he has more versatility.
The improvements in Daum’s game have garnered some attention from the NBA. His success in “The Basketball Tournament” in Columbus, Ohio, this summer boosted his NBA potential.
“A lot of NBA teams were watching that tournament,” said Daum. “I was able to get my name out there and get a fire started in the NBA.”