Northwestern finally treated its fans to a much-needed win on Sunday, but there was one person in Welsh-Ryan Arena that the Wildcats were looking to impress the most. Virginia Tech transfer Joey van Zegeren was in attendance, according to a source, and witnessed the win from right behind NU's bench.
Van Zegeren, a 6-foot-10 forward from the Netherlands who played considerable minutes for the Hokies, will be eligible immediately next season for one year, since he graduates in May. He could also play professionally and forego his last year of collegiate eligibility, according to CBS Sports.
Van Zegeren was suspended indefinitely by coach Buzz Williams this year for "a lack of discipline and self-control" at practice, and one incident in particular reportedly caused his suspension. He and new Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams met and mutually decided that it would be best for him to transfer.
Despite dealing with declining minutes under Williams, van Zegeren had a 102.4 offensive rating this year, according to KenPom, and is also a solid shot-blocker and was the team's best offensive rebounder. He scored 18 points against Penn State and 15 against Northern Iowa this year. His offense improved from the previous season, but he has always been a very good shot-blocker and rebounder. And he dunks well, too!
Northwestern could desperately use a player like van Zegeren, as the Wildcats are in need of an athletic big man to match up against Big Ten-caliber power forwards. His role as a rebounder could take the pressure off players like Vic Law and Sanjay Lumpkin, who are often physically out-matched by opponents. Moreover, it would give NU some intriguing options offensively to get incoming recruit Aaron Falzon involved as a shooter, and not force him to play like a big power forward.
His skill set is different from what NU has right now, and the source said that he is "different than anyone they've ever had."
If the Wildcats do secure a commitment from Van Zegeren, then they will have filled their 13 allotted scholarships for next season, barring any unknown transfers.