Martyce Kimbrough, left, holds on to the ball during a game this season for the team CB Marbella in the third-tier Spanish league LEB Plata. Kimbrough, a University of Findlay graduate, is in his second professional basketball season in Spain. He averaged a team-high 14.6 points per game before the season came to a halt earlier this month due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo provided)

By ANDY WOLF

STAFF WRITER

The role of “scorer” has always fit Martyce Kimbrough.

He’s a self-creator and a big-shot maker when it comes to dialing up from distance.

That long-, or sometimes mid-range ability has taken him literal distances overseas.

And right now, he’s thriving in his second professional basketball season in Spain.

That was until concerns of the coronavirus put a halt to the season for two weeks on March 12. The Spanish Basketball Federation announced on Wednesday an extension of the suspension of its leagues until April 12.

The University of Findlay grad returned in the fall for another season in the LEB Plata, the third-tier Spanish league, but with a new team in CB Marbella.

The timing of the postponement was even tougher with Marbella finding its late-season groove.

Marbella had won its last nine games to vault to 14-11 overall — good for third in the East division standings. Eight regular season games remained.

Each year, the league’s winner and runner-up are promoted to the LEB Oro, the second-tier division, while the lowest four are relegated.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Kimbrough currently leads his team in scoring at 14.6 points per game.

“When you come in as American, you kind of know they want you because you can score as well as run the team,” Kimbrough said. “Most of the time they want you to score the ball, especially if you’re a shooter.”

The 3-point line, the signature spot of his UF career, is a bit farther back in Spain.

The NCAA recently moved its 3-point line back to the international distance of 22-13/4 for the past season — up from 20 feet, nine inches when Kimbrough was at UF.

He’s still knocking triples down at alarming rates, at 39.9 percent (57 of 143) to tie for the league high at 3.4 per game.

“The court seems smaller because there’s no defensive 3 seconds,” Kimbrough said. “Instead of a 6-7, 6-8 guy standing there, there’s a 7-foot guy standing, so it takes up more space.”

The scoring numbers league-wide aren’t as eye-popping as NBA games, which regularly surpass triple digits.

Marbella and its opponents average 70.5 and 70.7 points per game, respectively. The league’s individual leading scorer is the only one putting in 20 points on a nightly basis.

Kimbrough calls the Spanish style “much more tactical” as opposed to American players often relying on their physicality.

“You can only get the most out of yourself (by) being authentic. At the same time, you also have to adjust out of survival,” Kimbrough said.

In a way, it’s the perfect opportunity for Kimbrough.

But his competition is steep, noting there’s far more guards between 6-1 or 6-3 worldwide or even country-wide, competing for the same roster spots.

The stage isn’t too big for Kimbrough, though, who started out as a high school standout at Lima Central Catholic.

In the last game of his prep career, Kimbrough’s 22 points, including 18 in the first half, helped LCC defeat Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph 64-62 for the 2014 Division III state title. Kimbrough, the eventual D-III Player of the Year, hit all four of his 3s in the first half –hitting his last right before the halftime buzzer.

After spending one season at the University of Indianapolis, Kimbrough played his last three at UF.

Kimbrough became the first player in nearly 30 years to lead the Oilers in scoring for three straight seasons. He ended up 11th on UF’s all-time scoring list with 1,650 career points.

Most of that came via the 3-ball where he became one of Findlay’s best. His 298 treys rank only behind Marc Bishop (313), who did his over four seasons.

Kimbrough holds the single-game (11) and single-season (114) records for 3s and bested 40 percent for his career.

He always had the green light at UF.

The contrast of the international game doesn’t align where, to Kimbrough, the key is “just being efficient” as there’s less one-on-one.

“You might not get your shot, but the shots you do get, you have to knock them down,” he said. “You can’t miss the open shots that people might miss in high school or college.”

Kimbrough has not only been sharpening his game, but his knowledge of the language.

He was receiving three one-hour lessons per week from a Spanish teacher affiliated with his club.

“It shows the people that you are actually taking time to learn the culture and it’s just helping you grow as a person,” he said.

It’s even helping him on the court, too.

“I can’t really explain it. It’s different when you’re playing and you don’t know what’s being said,” Kimbrough said of the fans.

Wolf, 419-427-8496

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