Baumholder's Greg Makubaya and Davion Haywood go to trap Richard Rivera Suarez during a Nov. 28, 2023, practice at the Hall of Champions in Baumholder, Germany.

Baumholder's Greg Makubaya and Davion Haywood go to trap Richard Rivera Suarez during a Nov. 28, 2023, practice at the Hall of Champions in Baumholder, Germany. (Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes)

The Baumholder boys basketball program has built itself into a dynasty, winning the past five DODEA Division III European championships.

After clinching the title with a roster consisting of just two seniors last winter, the Buccaneers should have entered this season with continuity.

Heading into the 2023-2024 campaign, though, Baumholder looks like a completely different squad. Gone are standout Caleb Piggé, son of coach Dwayne Piggé, and big center Damien Jung. Caleb transferred to a private academy in Las Vegas, while Jung moved to Houston.

Those losses add pressure on those still at Baumholder, looking to keep the dynasty going.

“We got to stay humble and keep the legacy going,” sophomore small forward Keryel Badillo said. “It’s a lot, but we got some new key players. I feel the connection. I think we can do it this year.”

One big difference between last season and this one is the lack of height, especially in the key.

Caleb Piggé and Jung are 6 feet, 4 inches and 6-7, respectively, and nobody on this year’s squad stands near that tall.

Instead, Baumholder has a bunch of guards. Five of the six returners – Badillo, sophomores Davion Haywood and Greg Makubaya, juniors Richard Rivera Suarez and Leo Kirkland, and senior Muhamed Selimi – play on the wings.

And one of the key newcomers this season according to Dwayne Piggé, Wryson Catalan, is an outside shooter.

Instead of focusing on what they don’t have, the Buccaneers have banded together, saying their team chemistry is as tight as ever.

“We have a lot of energy,” Haywood said. “Everybody on the team has different skill sets – some can shoot, some can do everything. I feel like we have a really good team this year.”

Baumholder’s philosophy won’t change too much on the floor.

Teams still will have to face the program’s traditionally high-pressure, full-court defense. Players will trap and harass ballhandlers all over the court while also attacking passing lanes. Piggé said he likes to use the defense to lead into the offense on the fast break, and it fits even more with the players at his disposal.

Still, he mentioned control will be needed to keep the aggressiveness from having a negative effect, such as getting into foul trouble.

“Making sure you’re in the right areas on the floor, keep your hands out and up, that’s very important to me,” Piggé said. “I’m big on pressure, and I love to get high turnovers from the other team. If you can stay disciplined, that will keep you out of foul trouble.”

The title defense begins Friday with a trip to Ansbach.

Baumholder isn’t taking anybody lightly. When asked about the team’s biggest threats to a six-peat, Rivera Suarez said every team can be one – and not just teams like Spangdahlem, which was the only Division III team to beat them last year.

Thus, the Buccaneers want to start this winter on the right foot.

“I think the first game is a statement game,” Kirkland said. “We got to make a statement to show that even with the pieces we lost, we’re still (one of the best in the division).”

Along with Baumholder, both Stuttgart and Naples are seeking to defend their titles in Divisions I and II when the European tournament reconvenes in Wiesbaden in February. And plenty of teams are ready to knock them off their perches.

Here’s a look at teams in DODEA-Europe, based off responses from coaches:

Division I


New coach Gabriell Horton has plenty of options from which to choose, as 50 athletes have tried out for the basketball team this season.

The Raiders have only a few returners, adding to the new look for Kaiserslautern.


Mitchell Judah takes over the helm of a program whose only wins in 2022-2023 came against Alconbury in Division III.

For Judah, it’s all about the process to put things on the right track. If the Lancers can stay positive and work hard, he said the results will take care of themselves.

Ty Wright, Cole Soderstrom, Gabriel Blanke, Tyler Chiapetta, David Kumi-Baah and Brian Miles all are back for the Lancers. New to the team are Daeshawn Miles, Gideon Toure, Jaylon Gatewood, Michael Ortiz, Jayden Shepherd, Jordan Chacon-Del Bosque, Khase Williams, Lathon Rudd and Noah Whipple.


The Spartans are coming off a 10-10 season and a fifth-place finish in the European tournament, and the schedule isn’t too kind to start this campaign.

SHAPE opens with a pair at last year’s runner-up Ramstein and then host Wiesbaden, which took fourth in 2022-2023.

New coach Brant Tryon said his players are ready to go up against the giants of Division I. It helps the Spartans have a giant of their own in Bela Clobes. The 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward earned first-team All-European honors.

Also returning are senior Samson Tryon and juniors Euklid Cani, Matteo Sanciu and Keller Schutt.


The Panthers had an historic 2022-2023 campaign, bringing home the program’s first European title since 2013 after a perfect regular season and victory in a double-overtime thriller in the championship game.

Stuttgart has plenty of firepower to replicate this feat. The team, however, has two gaping holes with the graduation of tournament MVP and first-team All-European selection Trenton Jackson and leading rebounder Joshua Zipperer.

Pacing the Panthers is the all-DODEA backcourt in senior Ismael Anglada Paz (first team) and junior Tyler Jackson (second team). Senior guard Jacob Schudel also was named to the second-team All-European team last season, while Chris Hess and Alex Guthrie also logged significant minutes last campaign.

New to the team are sophomore Adrian Anglada Paz and junior transfer Riley Nevin.


The Falcons took third place in the regular season and in the tournament last winter. And under new coach Adrian Crawford, they are looking to soar even higher.

Returning from last year’s team are guards Brandon Goins, Malcolm Howard, Junior Gonzalez DeJesus and Ivan Ruffin and senior forward Barkale Johnson.

Reinforcements have come to the frontcourt for Vilseck. Forwards Jaylen Acron and Skylar Cooper and center John Dorff have joined the squad.


With seven players coming back and new players joining the team, coach David Brown has high hopes this year’s squad will play with more consistency than last year, when it finished fourth.

Brown said the Warriors’ biggest deficiencies last year were inexperience and physical strength, but he anticipates Wiesbaden will turn those into strengths this season.

A key contributor will be Jordan Thibodeaux. The junior guard averaged 14.3 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals en route to a second-team All-European selection.

Seniors Yadier Viera (guard), Colin Moore (forward) and Sergio Egland (center), juniors mare Braxton (guard) and Jonah Harvey (guard) and sophomore Teagan McConville (forward) also bring back their experience.

Zion Thompson, a junior, transferred from California, while senior Hayden Tallent will be making the jump up from the JV squad.

Division II


The Saints had more losses during the tournament than the regular season (three to two) in 2022-2023, and they will be looking to better their fourth-place position this season.

Coming back are seniors Santiago Wright, Colin North and Julius Lasalle-Bryant, juniors Joseph Guerrero, Andrew Walker, Deon Walker and Patrick Romanazzi, and sophomore Alando Brown.

Freshmen Chance Borne, Bryson Russell, Jonathan Sanchez, Tyler Warren, Micah Green and Davon Gann could be key newcomers.

Black Forest Academy

Art Melli steps back onto the bench for the Falcons after a five-year hiatus.

The coach described his team as strong on the boards and having quick ball movement. Melli also expects BFA to be strong opponents for DODEA teams.

The Falcons have four returners from the team that went 5-12. Melli said those players have improved significantly, and JV players making the transition to varsity will fill out the rest of the roster.


Last year’s Division II champion lost 60 percent of its lineup due to graduation and PCS.

Craig Lord’s squad will rely on its four returning players – senior Davion Bowie and juniors Camden Kasparek and Jett Jones and sophomore Jeramiah Robinson – to carry the load in 2023-2024. The Wildcats also expect newcomers Thurman Bruner, Gabe Doran and Landon Heavrin to contribute.


The Admirals have been in the last two Division II title games, winning it all in 2022 while falling at the last step against Naples in 2023.

Plans are for Ben Anderson’s team to get back to that stage come February in Wiesbaden.

Players such as senior guard Tyler DeMeritt will be key factors for Rota’s success this season. DeMeritt was named to the All-European second team for his exploits helping lead the Admirals to a 12-4 record.

Also returning are senior forwards Brian Leiba and Christian Weaver, sophomore guards Jayden DeCastro and Kaya Geylani, senior guard Jackson Warkentien and junior guard Zeppelin Hasselbring.


Jesse Woods expressed optimism the Cougars can bounce back from a down year, seeking to make a deep run in the tournament.

Vicenza has nine veteran players heading into the season. Senior Jayden Stemile will be the anchor and provide leadership, according to Woods. Junior Jace Herron will be one of the main shooters, while junior Joe Kelly and sophomore Simone Gilbert will bring the post presence.

Additions to the team will provide depth to the rotation. Ben Harlow played two seasons ago and is back. Ben Morton will have some looks at shooting guard, while Alex Oliver will slot in on the wing.

Division III


Avery Warwell is taking over the helm after leading the JV squad in 2022-2023.

The new mentor will be banking on the returners to lead the Dragons to greater things this winter. Those veterans include seniors Bohdan Andre, Alfonso Sanchez, Ben Schroeder and JuJu Brazoban and juniors Leo Politis and Luis Alejandro Diez.

The coach said he also hopes to get the best out of junior newcomer Aaron Dudley, fellow junior Anthony Sheehan and sophomore Vincent Sheehan.


The Lions have one eye on this year and the other on the future, looking to improve upon their fourth-place finish in 2022-2023 while developing their younger talent.

AFNORTH’s strengths will be its physicality and basketball IQ, according to coach/sponsor Kristin Kujat.

A pair of senior co-captains will pace the Lions. Connor Luminarias totaled 182 points and 59 steals last year, and Nathan Goldsmtih amassed 111 points, 122 rebounds and 39 blocks. Fellow senior Anthony Romar snatched 24 steals, while junior Henry Main proved to be a threat from beyond the arc last winter.

New to the team are junior Rodrigo Mojeda, sophomore Jackson Lojka and freshmen Stefan Termure and Romain Nallamoutou.


The Cougars had an up-and-down campaign in 2022-2023, and they will be hoping the experience will lead to more success this winter.

Back for Michael Hunt’s team are Daeveon Browne, Ethan Dixon, Lucas Rudy, Bobby Lovallo and Brodie Kohrs.

New players for Ansbach are Okenie McLaughlin, Nathan Arreguin, Jalen Donaldson, Seth Henry, Jack Lovallo, Martin Mundo and Owen Schuettpelz.


The Brigands have changed dramatically from last year when they picked up their lone win of the season at the European championships. One starter graduated and another three left via PCS.

Still, new coach Glenn Goodrich is excited by the core makeup of this team. He said he anticipates the seniors carrying the team as the younger players develop on the fly.

Those seniors include Mason Kleckner, Cade Wedekind, Damion Rogers and Nandor Lonovics, although Rogers is leaving midseason for Vilseck. Others coming back are junior Asher Jorgensen and sophomore Matthew Rogers.

Joining the squad are senior Antonio Pranjic, sophomore Ivica Domazetov and freshmen Cameron Hales, Altin Ebipi, David Morone and Roman McLeod.


Former DODEA player Michael Weston takes over the Tigers, and he said he believes they will a team with whom to reckon this winter.

Weston pointed out the Idowu brothers as key contributors this campaign. Junior Jacob has a lot of confidence and ability on the court. Freshman Jacob brings height, standing at 6-4.

Sophomore Jacob Berkau has shown speed and agility to go good court awareness and ballhandling, according to Weston.

Other returners include Benjamin Hastings, Scott Johnson and Cameron Sanchez.

Javin Smith and Theo Reyes both arrived at Hohenfels in October and could see the floor. A trio of freshmen, Aidan Jones, Lucas Gibbs and Jaylen Greene also are on the roster.


The Jaguars have a mostly new squad this season, but coach Jimmy Martin likes the depth. That should allow Sigonella to be aggressive on offense and defense.

The key returners are seniors Deshawn Wallace and Jaydon Reed and junior Mikolaj Czernielewski. Two sophomores, Keiron Cayton and C.J. Tenorio, also bring back some experience.

Incoming players in senior Tyler Lukenbaugh, junior Isiah Wilson and sophomore Jacob Maloney are expected to play key roles this season. Also new to the team are senior Issac Amaro, junior Christopher Morrison, sophomore Gideon Tesfay and freshmen Bobby Gibbons and Levi Denton.


The Sentinels are determined heading into this season, after losing out to Baumholder in the title game.

Eight players are back from that squad under new coach Mark Jackson. Leading the charge is senior forward Robert Leggett, who earned second-team All-European honors. He is flanked by fellow seniors Javian Riviera and Makario Drummond.

Juniors Messiah Smith and Jeremy White and sophomores Cameron Lewis, Julian Leonard and Jayden Leonard also return for Spangdahlem.

Joining the squad are seniors Michael Landers and Mason Tieyah, sophomore Zander Doulder and freshman Sebastian Flores.

author picture
Matt is a sports reporter for Stars and Stripes based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. A son of two career Air Force aircraft maintenance technicians, he previously worked at newspapers in northeast Ohio for 10 years and is a graduate of Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

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