Joey van Zegeren: “Northwestern is an great opportunity”

I had a very great interview with Dutch forward Joey van Zegeren McAdam (208-F-90). The former Virginia Tech player is transferring to the Big Ten school Northwestern. Joey van Zegeren McAdam (208-F-90) McAdam has one year of eligibility remaining and can compete for the Wildcats as a graduate transfer. Northwestern coach Chris Collins said in a statement:”He’ll bring great athleticism, physicality and size, but most importantly, experience to our team as we head into next season”. Van Zegeren averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 rebounds last season. As a redshirt sophomore, he averaged 6.4 points and 5.0 rebounds. He played in 79 games at Virginia Tech.
In this wide-ranging interview we talked about his stay at Virginia Tech and his thoughts about Northwestern and the upcoming season, what will be his final college year.

What was your childhood like?
I was born in Gweru, Zimbabwe, my mom is form Zimbabwe and my dad is Dutch. When my brother and I were Young we played a little bit of basketball in our backyard, but just for fun. In 1999 we moved to the Netherlands, and once we were settled in Hoogeveen, my brother and I started playing more basketball and at a organized level. I officially started playing organized basketball at a basketball club in Hoogeveen called HBV Falcons. My brother was a real talent here, but whenever he went to play ball on the outside courts I would follow him and play as well. Eventually my brother had to quit for personal reasons, and I continued playing. And then made the move to go play in Zwolle for Landstede Basketball, I played here for 2 years, and then moved to Rotterdam to play for Rotterdam Basketball. I only played in Rotterdam for 1 year before going to Canarias Basketball Academy in las palmas, Gran Canaria, in Spain. CBA is a basketball academy that helps European players develop, and helps them make the jump to college in the USA or to any bigger team in Europe. It is at CBA that I really realized how much it would take if I wanted to become successful in this game. And eventually by playing in tournaments and games all over the world and in the U.S.A, I was able to get some colleges interested in me. And eventually ended up picking Virginia Tech.

What brought you to basketball and when did you realize that this is what you want to do?
My mom played basketball in school when she was younger and she was the first one to teach my brother and I, and eventually when I realized how talented and good my brother was, I always wanted to follow in his footsteps. And once he had to stop basketball, this ended up being a motivation for me to keep on going and try to make it my lifestyle.

Looking back, what have you learned from your journey as a student-athlete at Virginia Tech?
I have grown a lot from my time at Virginia Tech, both on the court and off the court as a person. The most important thing I’ll take with me from my time at Virginia Tech, other than my diploma, are the relationships I’ve made and built with a lot of incredible people that I met throughout my time there. Being so far away from home, it is always good to have good people supporting you and having your back. Not only back in Europe, but also wherever you might end up.

CHIf13uWsAAR86XWhat did you study on Virginia Tech?
My major was International Studies with business.

It seems difficult to me but is studying easy to combine with basketball?
It’s very time consuming, and you have to put a lot of effort into it, but if you’re smart enough to realize how important a college diploma can and will be to you in your future. You’ll just deal with everything and get it done. At Virginia Tech we also had a lot of academic support from advisors and tutors, so that outside of class you could study more for classes that you might have trouble with and someone would help you study.

Often you had many week night games during peak academic periods. When accounting the return trips and the late arrivals to the campus on many occasions.
All of those factors make succeeding academically all the more challenging. How was that regulated?
It makes it very challenging, especially when you get back very late at night and have to go to class early the next morning. But it’s just a part of being a student athlete, and once you accept it and do your best, it becomes normal.

What would you say has been the highlight of your basketball career thus far?
I’ve had a couple games that I played well, and I have played in a lot of incredible arenas and cities/ places. But for me personally, I consider playing with the teammates I’ve had throughout the years the highlight of my basketball career thus far. I really believe I was very lucky in what kind of teammates I’ve had since I started playing in Hoogeveen, throughout my years in Zwolle, Rotterdam, CBA and then in my 4 years at VT. I have learned so much from almost everyone that I have played with and am still friends with a lot of them.

What can you tell us about your game and style of play?
I play the 4/5, on offense mostly inside, from the low post, short corner, or elbows. I play a lot off of the pick and rolls with guards. I’m kind of a little bit athletic, so I like to use my athleticism in my post moves and off pick and rolls. On defense I like blocking shots or adjusting shots and battling for rebounds on both sides of the court.

joey-van-zegeren-ryan-anderson-ncaa-basketball-boston-college-virginia-tech-850x560One of the adjectives that comes up about you when people describe your game is that you’re a “bouncy” athlete. Would you agree with that?
I guess you could use bouncy, when I was younger I was told by a doctor at physical check up that I would never be taller than 6 foot. So for me it was important to want to jump higher so that I could dunk. So I did a lot of jumping exercises, and then once I turned 16 my growth spurt took over and I went from 6 foot to about 6’8 in about 2 years. And being tall and able to jump has definitely helped my game a lot, and shaped me into the basketball player I am today.

One of the things I love about your game is your fearlessness.
Thank you, I think I really started becoming fearless in my year at CBA, and then after my redshirt year at VT. Once I got a little physically bigger, stronger, and faster the confidence to play fearless grew.

What is something you enjoy doing in your free time away from basketball?
Spending time with friends and family, or talking to friends. I’ve been able to travel a lot throughout the world mostly because of basketball. So I kind of have friends all over the world and I like to stay in touch with everyone and see how they’re doing. And with today’s technology it is easier to do so. I think because of this I might be a little too attached/ addicted to my phone.

Is it a relief to know that you’re going to have a chance to play for Northwestern?
don’t see it as a relief, for me it is an great opportunity I am very excited about. Northwestern is a up and coming basketball team that plays in a great conference, with a great coaching staff and really good players. And off the court everyone there, especially the players are really good people. The type of people I could even see myself being friends with if I wasn’t going to be their teammate. So playing with them is going to be a blessing!

Was the decision for Northwestern to enter the Big Ten a big part of why you came to Northwestern?
It did have some influence in my decision, but I was also looking at some other schools in really good conferences, but like I said, I think the biggest thing for me was that it came down to what kind of people am I going to be surrounding myself with. And do I feel comfortable and at home there.

Do you embrace the idea that you will be a central figure on this year’s Northwestern team?
I’m ready to embrace any role the coaching staff wants/needs me to take on, the team at Northwestern is good, and we have even more potential. I don’t think that as a team we’ll be able to reach our goals by just depending on one, two or maybe three ‘central figures’. Everyone is going to have to play a big part, and do a lot if we’re going to want to reach our goals!

What are your initial thoughts going into next season?
A long, tough, exhausting journey ahead of us, but with a lot of fun, because all of us started basketball because it was fun, so it is important to me to have fun playing the sport we love! And hopefully towards the end of the season we can “shake a leg” (go dancing, go to the ncaa tournament).


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