HORSHOLM, DENMARK — There are times when Rob Fields cannot believe where basketball has taken him.
The former Orangeburg-Wilkinson basketball standout will try to help guide the Horsholm 79ers through the Danish League’s playoffs this week.
“The first time I came (to Denmark), I was a little bit shell-shocked,” Fields said. “I never thought basketball would take me to another country.”
Despite summers spent traveling the Southeast playing AAU basketball, and four years away from home in college, the idea of spending eight months a year in another country is still surreal for Fields.
But there are also times when he gets down and reminds himself of a promise he made three years ago.
“I said I’d give it five years,” he said. “If I can do it for five years and get to the level that I feel I can and get paid more I’m going to play as long as I can.”
Fields has put together a solid professional career thus far in Denmark. He is a key contributor — he averages 12.3 points, 3.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game — for the 79ers this season.
But his dreams are bigger than his current league can satisfy.
“Sometimes I just get so down with some of the stuff that happens,” he said. “I’ll be like, ‘Hey man, I’m done.’ People think playing over here is easy. There are so many things that come into play that sometimes you just feel like you’d rather do something else. But everyone pushes me to keep going, and that is my biggest motivation.”
After leaving Orangeburg, the 6-foot-1 guard starred at Catawba College. His 1,528 points ranks 13th all-time on the school’s scoring list. Since graduating from there following the 2009-10 season, he has played for five teams in Denmark and Finland. And he has been productive.
Fields called he Danish League a good league. But said the country is dominated by handball and soccer.
“That is the biggest conflict in this league,” he said. “But this is a good place to play.”
And, it pays enough that Fields said he can concentrate on playing.
“You want to make more,” he said. “It is as simple as that. You want to keep moving up, keep progressing financially and looking forward.”
So the immediate goal is to breakthrough to a European League.
“I want to play in a country like Germany, Italy, Spain,” he said. “That is really the upper echelon of basketball.”
Fields definitely believes he has the skill set to play at that level.
“I’ve always been a natural scorer,” he said. “And as far as putting pressure on guys, I have speed and natural hands. I think I’m a pretty good teammate. When I’m called on to score the ball, I can do that at a pretty efficient rate, and I think that is what has helped me get to this level. But I can set my teammates up to. And I’m a winner. I’ve been on some winning teams at this level.”
Fields said Horsholm will enter the playoffs dealing with injuries. A couple guards are battling ankle issues, and he said that means he will have to step up. And that could provide the platform to make his dream of taking another step up in the ranks of professional basketball a reality.
“The guys always say you are one big game, or one opportunity away from taking it to the next step,” he said. “But that is something you are always dealing with when you are a Division-II guy that was a guard. It is not easy to move up the ladder. You have to stay with it, and once you get the opportunity, you have to capitalize on it.
“I just have to keep playing hard, keep progressing, and that opportunity is going to come. When it does, I will take advantage.”
And if it the opportunity does not come, Fields said he is ready for that too.
“I have groomed myself to do more than one thing,” he said. “That is something my family emphasized. Basketball is not the end all, be all of living. If I was to have a job, coach or do anything else, I think I could adapt. But for this point in my life, I’m going to continue to do my job, be in the gym lifting ... basketball is just the best thing for me now.
“And the next thing I do, I will be preparing hard — the same way — for that,” he added. “That is what basketball has taught me ... work hard at whatever you do.”