Former Tommie basketball standout Bryan Schnettler has signed a contract to play this winter with the Rochester (Minn.) Fire of the 44-team American Basketball Association.
The Fire will play its inaugural season in the ABA in 2007-08. They will start training camp Oct. 8 and open their season Nov. 10, and will play home games in the Mayo Civic Arena. The Fire is in the ABA's 13-team White Division (there's also a Red and Blue Division). The White also includes two teams from the Chicago area as well as teams from Detroit, St. Louis, Peoria, Rockford and the Quad Cities, as well as three Texas squads and one based in Mexico.
The ABA, which began in 2000, had a professional-record 60 teams in 2006-07, but a new Premier League which debuts in January 2008 has taken several teams away, including the Minnesota Ripknees. But at least 23 more teams have been added to the ABA's list for 2008-09 including the Twin Cities Ballers.
"I love basketball, so this is a fun opportunity for me to see what this league is like," Schnettler said. "Any time you can get paid to do something you love is a pretty good deal. It works out with my student-teaching plans, so I'll give it a shot and see what happens."
The Fire's roster is still being assembled, but eight signed thus far are Minnesota natives with a variety of college backgrounds.
Schnettler's shooting prowess will come in handy in the ABA, where 3-pointers count for four points in some situations.
Schnettler will do his student teaching in Edina in early fall and again in late spring, around his Rochester season. He chose the Fire over a similar offer to play with the Ripknees.
Schnettler is the second Tommie player to sign a pro deal. His teammate, two-time All-American Isaac Rosefelt, left this week for Cordoba, Spain, where he will play this winter in the LED Bronze League.
Schnettler, an honorable mention All-American and two-time All-MIAC shooting guard, completed his college eligibility last March and scored 1,336 points in 82 games at UST. He helped the Tommies sweep MIAC regular-season and playoff championships and averaged 19 ppg in nine career postseason games. The Tommies were 64-19 in his three-year era. Schnettler scored 20 or more points 27 times on his career, including 15 of 28 games last season.
In 82 games in three seasons at St. Thomas, Schnettler made 297-of-647 3-pointers (46%). When you add in his 16 treys made as a freshman in 2003-04 at UW-Superior, Schnettler's collegiate total is 313-of-696 for 46% in 108 games. In three seasons at UST he made 164-of-180 free throws (91.2%). Add in his 15-of-19 at UW-Superior and his collegiate totals are 179-of-199 (90%).
Schnettler made at least one 3-point basket in his last 75 college games since going 0-for-4 at UW-River Falls Dec. 29, 2004.
In last winter's 24-4 finish, Schnettler made 74-of-80 free throws (92.5%) -- to finish fifth among all NCAA division players and second in Division III. He was one of just two NCAA players to make 110 or more treys and convert at 46% or better. His 117 3-pointers ranked him ninth in all NCAA divisions.
Schnettler's seven treys last Feb. 7 in an overtime loss at Gustavus broke the MIAC career all-game record of 277 set by Macalester grad Patrick Russell (1998-2003). He also broke the season record for most threes in MIAC games and finished with 84 in 20 games. He also broke his own conference season all-game record of 109.
Schnettler was an ironman, too. He played all 95 minutes in back-to-back road overtime games Feb. 5 and 7. He also played all 45 minutes in a road OT win at UW-River Falls, and 46 of 50 minutes in a double-OT game at Bethel.