Profiles in Sports: Jan Maehlen

This profile on Pepperdine University basketball player Jan Maehlen is one in a series on individuals in the community who are involved with the world of sports.

Pepperdine University athletes are collectively known as the “Waves.” However, “Tsunami” seems like a more appropriate nickname for freshman center Jan Maehlen.

At 7 feet 315 pounds, Maehlen towers over both teammates and opponents. To put his size in perspective, Maehlen is the same height as Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum, but has 30 pounds on Bynum.

What Maehlen has in size, however, he lacks in experience. Maehlen, who moved to America from Germany at the age of 8, spent his first three years of high school at basketball powerhouse Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Ind. Playing behind several other Division 1 prospects, he was largely relegated to junior varsity. It was not until he moved to Tucson, Ariz. as a senior that he played significant minutes of varsity basketball.

Nevertheless, Pepperdine coach Tom Asbury feels comfortable placing the Waves’ future on Maehlen’s broad back.

“I am going to play him, even if he is not terribly productive early,” Asbury said. “He needs to get playing time because he is going to be such a force. I think he can be a force this year; I do not think we have to wait. The only way for him to get there is to get him playing time.”

Maehlen has proved that he is willing to work hard. During the summer, he said he lost more than 25 pounds by doing extra cardio in the morning, and creating an eating schedule with a nutritionist.

“My conditioning is getting better,” Maehlen said. “I can see a big improvement from when I got here.”

Maehlen has worked extensively in practice with former Pepperdine center and current assistant coach Will Kimble.

“[Maehlen] has looked great in practice,” Kimble said. “He has been moving up and down the floor well. He is a big space-eater, has soft hands, finishes well and is aggressive. We like what he is doing out there.”

Maehlen has also benefited from competing in practice against veteran centers Denis Agre, a senior, and Corbin Moore, a junior.

“Dennis’ and Corbin’s experience has really helped me out,” Maehlen said. “I am learning from them, seeing how they play. It is good having them around.”

In his first season in Malibu, Maehlen has been far from dominant, averaging 1.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game in his first 10 appearances, but has shown signs of improvement. After being charged with four fouls out of a maximum of five in three of his first four collegiate games, Maehlen has not picked up more than three fouls in a game. However, his minutes have been limited in certain games because he is not as effective against smaller, quicker teams.

“I want to contribute as much as I can,” Maehlen said. “I will grab rebounds, score when I can and set good screens.”

Although Maehlen still has room to develop, he has done enough in his brief collegiate career to earn the respect of his teammates.

“My opinion is that he will be the most dominating center in the [West Coast Conference]; if not this season, then next season,” Agre said. “He is a beast.”

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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