6’10 Dutch center Joey van Zegeren is a consumate NCAA college basketball player, a three time All ACC Academic performer and the 24 game starter as sophomore at Virginia Tech University. This, his junior year, has the makings of being his break out season as his stats have improved from 3.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 14.6 minutes during the first season to 6.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 22 minutes in the second one.
Joey enrolled at CBA in the 2010/2011 season, seizing an opportunity that was offered to him t0 gain more exposure to colleges and universities. His purpose after graduating High School was to study for the SAT exam and work as hard as possible on the court. “I played with my national team in Holland U20 and Roel van den Graaf [CBA scout] and Rob Orellana [Director at CBA] watched me play and asked me if I wanted to go to CBA. I really wanted to play at college, that was a dream for me, and CBA was going to help me get it from Europe”, he begins his story.
Rob Orellana detected that Joey not only was tall, but also had good work ethic. “Although we had had Kevin van Vijk the previous season, Joey’s year at the Academy was the beginning of the large Dutch influence at CBA. Joey came here as a very inexperienced player, but with a tremendous upside. Due to his fantastic work ethic and great teammates, he progressed at a rapid pace”, Rob Orellana says. So all he had to do was “work as hard as possible to go to the NCAA” and do things he had never done. “In that sense, Joey adds: “It was really hard in the beginning, but I had a very good group of guys, especially the Dutch, such as Thomas van der Mars, Thomas De Thaey or Charlon Kloof. We knew each other a little bit before going to Gran Canaria and it helped”.
With three practices a day, he “got in a lot better shape”. There were a lot of repetitions with dribbling and passing, so in the end the skills made him “a lot better”. Do you want to see the result? Here you are his 2010/2011 highlights:
He defines CBA with three forceful words: “discipline, toughness and competiveness”. “All the things that you learn at CBA are essential to reach the NCAA. Rob told me stay in the line, come back everyday and not stop”, he stresses. Therefore he thinks that to get to CBA every player “must know that playing hard is his goal. Once you decide that, you have to do everything to reach that goal and people at CBA push as nobody has ever had”.
The big change, Virginia Tech
When a CBA player enters the NCAA he is mentally trained to resist the first shock and he needs to continue his hard work: “The players in the NCAA were a lot bigger and more athletic and very fast. During my first year I had to lift a lot of weights to get that level”, he recognizes.
After that year at CBA, in the 2011/2012 Joey enrolled Virginia Tech but only appeared in three games before a head injury ultimately forced him to redshirt. Anyway, he did not lose his focus and kept on moving and later completed two good seasons as a freshman and sophomore.
With that experience, he really knows what it takes to endure a NCAA life, which is a little bit different to CBA’s: “We have fewer practices but are pretty long. Furthermore outside of practices you have to come in and do something for yourself to improve”, he mentions and right after recites his normal schedule: “At 6:30 I do a lot of shooting and offensive stuff practice. Later I have an injury prevention session with some exercises. I have breakfast with a couple of teammates and I attend to class to get done at 12 or 1. After lunch we lift weights at around 3 pm with the whole team and in the evening we have practice again. When we get home, we spend some time to do homework, hang out or just rest”. Tight schedule, isn’t it?
How to become an astonishing center
“I can improve my shooting a lot more and go more to the offensive rebound”. Clear ideas as anybody can read. As he has two more years ahead, his only goal is to show how good he can become. “I would like to enter in the draft this year or the following one. I am going to graduate in next spring so I may begin the second major. That is going to be a possibility. If the NBA does not come up, I would like to play overseas, either in Spain or Italy”, he explains.
In addition, he is an intense player on the court and loves to entertain the Virginia Tech fans. The most amazing moment he has ever experienced was against Georgia Tech last season. This is the evidence:
And now the description of those feelings: “Georgia Tech had one of the best shot blockers in the ACC, Daniel Miller. In my very first defense I blocked his shot and he said that is one for you. When he went back down he blocked one. He felt kind of competitive and he tried to block me some more times and he could not because of my fake moves and post moves. At the end of the game I finished dunking on him two or three times. It was incredible”.
International studies with business option. Interesting and demanding degree. Joey likes it so much that these three years he has been included in the All-ACC Academic Men’s Basketball Team. “That means that my GPA is above 3.2. My grades are going well. If I go to class and pay attention, I get much information and I do not have to study that much in my room”, he declares.
Joey’s example gives us an idea of how NCAA works: good students find their way even if they play and practice hard every day. It is just a question of knowing how to manage their time.
His season is going to begin on Friday 14th of November vs Maryland-Easter Shore and CBA desires him a great junior year in an almost brand new team that is going to try to pass the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, something that did not happen last March.