NKU Loses 7-Footer Imanuel Zorgvol to transfer portal

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Center’s departure leaves Norse roster short in size, numbers

Last week, Northern Kentucky University lost its biggest remaining player – literally and metaphorically – to the transfer portal, when center Imanuel Zorgvol announced his intention to leave the Norse basketball program.

The announcement immediately preceded the news of head coach Darrin Horn’s new long-term contract extension, which keeps Horn in Highland Heights through June 2027.  The big man from the South American nation of Suriname is the sixth player in three weeks to defect from NKU for fresh opportunities elsewhere.  It also leaves the defending Horizon League champions with an absence of anything resembling a big man to complement the stable of existing and incoming guards.

Zorgvol, a redshirt freshman, joined the Norse out of Florida’s Central Florida Christian Academy (Orlando), where he helped lead the Eagles to back-to-back Florida Class 2A Regional Final games.  Much of what was known about Zorgvol prior to landing on NKU’s campus was learned through his earlier development and performance at the 2019 FIBA Youth Development Camp in Puerto Rico. 

At this 4-day camp, Zorgvol battled head-to-head with some of the best and most internationally-connected players in the Caribbean.  He later moved to the U.S., where he was able to develop further as both a student and budding basketball player. His hard work – and more visible platform to develop in Florida – led to a scholarship offer from NKU.  According to multiple sources NKU was Zorgvol’s only firm Division I offer, but with the Norse he had the luxury of using his true freshman season to develop on the bench behind 5th-year senior Chris Brandon. 

This extra year of seasoning allowed Zorgvol to become a capable backup in the blocks behind Brandon, averaging 9.1 minutes per game across the balance of 32 games on the season.  In this limited playing time, Zorgvol still managed to become a very productive player.  While shooting 60% from the field and 58% from the free throw line, Zorgvol averaged 2.6 ppg, 2.8 rebounds per game and1.52 blocks per game his redshirt freshman year campaign.

These statistics may look modest on paper, but the reality is that when Zorgvol was on the court, he was a towering alley-oop dunk and shot-altering force waiting to happen, giving opponents serious match-up problems in the paint.  If his statistics were extended out over 40 minutes, his averages would project to 11.3 ppg (19th in the HL), 12.2 rpg (1st in HL) and 2.95 bpg (1st in HL). 

While these numbers are a bit inflated because only three HL players played 35+ minutes per game this season, it does give a contextual peek into what his numbers could look like as a starter on a team that may end up lacking any other credible post players next season.

Zorgvol was surely slated to start in the post for the Norse next season following Chris Brandon’s graduation, so digging a bit beneath the surface shows that this could turn out to be a very troublesome departure heading into next season.

Zorgvol’s exit now leaves Coach Horn’s squad with just five (5) scholarship players, and seven (7) players total returning to the Norse.  Two of those players (freshman LJ Wells and redshirt freshman Cesar Tchilombo) have the height to play in the paint, but both will be coming back with very little college experience at the position.  The Norse do have four incoming freshmen to fill roster spots but all of them are guards as well, leaving the coaching staff with the daunting task of finding 5-7 capable players via the Transfer Portal or the junior college ranks.  As it stands now, the Norse would have to increase their perimeter shooting exponentially to make up for the loss of their only two weapons down low.  Welcome to the new normal of college basketball – stay tuned!

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