Overview: Belgian Student-Athletes in the USA (2020-’21)
Traditionally we at TIB publish a little overview at the start of each season discussing the Belgian Players who will be playing abroad. We do this in three seperate categories:
- Belgian Players Abroad in which we discuss the Belgian professional players abroad.
- Belgian Youngsters Abroad in wich we discuss the Belgian youngsters (born in 1999 or later).
- Belgian Student-Athletes in the USA in wich we discuss the Belgian youngsters who have decided to continue their development in the US education system.
With the global pandemic causing havoc for all basketball competitions this season the regular schedules have been blown to bits and we have some competitions that have already started, while others are only now beginning their preparations. Because of this it is quite possible that we will miss some players in these early overviews. But rest assured, we will correct those during the season.
With that said, let’s get this overview of the Belgian Student-Athletes in the USA started.
- Steven Verplancken Jr. (Southern Illinois). The Belgian youngster with Dominican roots had a stellar season at Glenville State (NCAA2) last season where he averaged 16.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.1 apg & 1.1 spg. Numbers that got him several offers from NCAA schools to choose from. Eventually he settled on the Southern Illinois Salukis. Initially set as a redshirt he has been granted a waiver and will be eligible to tip-off his sophomore year.
- Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk (Illinois). Bosmans-Verdonk traded in Gistel-Oostende for Illinois last season but unfortunately had to suffer through an injury riddled freshman year in which he only played in 9 games and averaged 1.2 ppg & 1.1 rpg.
- Gilles Dekoninck (UTEP). In his third and final year at UTEP Dekoninck is looking to have a big impact on the court. It will already be his fifth year in the USA after going through Huntington Prep and Fresno State. In 2018 he then transferred to UTEP and played 20 games in which he averaged 2.0 ppg & 1.1 rpg. Last season he redshirted and worked with the scout team during games, while working on his individual development throughout the season.
- Noel Coleman (Hawaii). Coleman is entering his fourth season in the USA after he joined Sunrise Academy Prep in 2017. After 2 seasons at Sunrise Academy he then enrolled at San Diego (NCAA) where last season he averaged 2.4 ppg in 24 games. This off-season he then transferred to Hawaii where he is set to start his sophomore year.
- Toumani Camara (Georgia). Camara is also entering his fourth season in the USA after he first made the move to join Chaminade-Madonna Prep in 2017. After two very successful seasons at Chaminade he graduated as a 4-star recruit and was picked up by Georgia where he made his debut last season. For the Bulldogs he averaged 6.6 ppg & 4.3 rpg and was the only player on the squad to play in all 32 games.
- Stephan Dibongue Swenson (Stetson). The youngster who last played in Belgium for Woluwe during the 2017-’18 season is set to enter his first season in college after graduating from Westminster Academy HS. In his senior year at Westminster he recorded impressive numbers with 14.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg & 9.2 apg. With those impressive numbers on his resumé he received several offers from D1 schools and eventually settled on Stetson.
- Nicolas Dierynck (Glenville State). In the USA since 2017 Dierynck has gone through several schools already as he has played for Lee Academy (HS), Lindenwood-Belleville (NAIA), Cuesta Community College (NJCAA), Central Maine (NJCAA) and has now transferred to Glenville State (NCAA2) for his junior year. Last year at Central Maine Dierynck notched solid numbers with 13.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg & 1.9 apg in 27 games.
- Darnell Snyers (North Georgia). Another Belgian youngster that moved to the USA back in 2017 is Snyers as he went through Combine Academy and then got a scholarship at North Georgia (NCAA2). Last season he played in a total of 26 games for them and averaged 7.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg & 2.1 apg.
- David Bea Mulumba (Concord). Bea Mulumba is set to enter his final year of college basketball at Concord University after initially making the move abroad back in 2015 when he joined Huntington Prep. After Huntington he then joined Teays Valley HS where he graduated. In 2017 he then joined Concord University where he has remained these past 3 years. Last year at Concord he averaged 6.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg & 1.3 apg in a total of 32 games.
- Owen Soontjens (Adelphi). The native from Corbais, Soontjens has been in the USA since 2016 when he joined Marianapolis Prep. Last season he then joined the Adelphi Panthers for his freshman year and averaged 2.9 ppg & 1.7 rpg in a total of 19 games played.
- Alan Kikwaki (Southeastern Oklahoma State). Originally from Boitsfort the lanky forward joined Iowa Lakes Community College back in 2017 and made a steady progress throughout his 2 active seasons there as he went on to average 9.6 ppg & 5.1 rpg last season. It got him an offer from Southeastern Oklahoma State where he is now set to tip-off his junior year.
- Alex Lacrosse (Carthage). Originally from Gembloux Lacrosse actually went to High School in Thailand at Bangkok Patana School where he received the Sportsman of the Year Award. After graduation he then went to the States and joined Carthage (NCAA3) in 2018. As an Athletic Training major Lacrosse is likely to spend all of his time on the sidelines rather than on the court as he hopes to become an athletic trainer for an NCAA D1 school after graduation.
- Omar Thielemans (South Plains College). It has been a rocky search for Thielemans who left Belgium in 2018 to start his American adventure. Having been offered a scholarship by Arizona the young forward quickly accepted, poised to get his college career started at a highly respected D1 college. It didn’t last long though and before the season even started Arizona announced that Thielemans would transfer out. He was then announced by Wright State, shortly after followed by Milwaukee but eventually ended up with neither one and joined South Plains college instead (NJCAA). At South Plains last season he appeared in 18 games but only played 6.4 mpg, averaging 0.6 ppg & 1.2 rpg. We can only hope that this season the talented youngster will finally be able to prove his worth.
- Tom Mark (Salt Lake CC). The 19 year old Forward made the move to the USA this off-season as he traded Okapi Aalst for Salt Lake Community College for his first experience in the States. Last season Mark received his first playing time in the Belgian EMBL and appeared in 8 games throughout the season, scoring 4 points, grabbing 5 rebounds, dishing out 5 assists, grabbing 3 steals and blocking 3 shots in 5 mpg. With his all-rounded skills and his athletic capabilities I have no doubt that he will be able to build out a nice college career in the States.
- Sam Hofman (Salt Lake CC). The forward from Bavi Vilvoorde made the move to the States in 2019 as he joined Detroit Mercy (NCAA). In his rookie season at Detroit Mercy he appeared in 21 games and averaged 1.7 ppg & 1.2 rpg in 7.5 mpg. This off-season he took the step back and joined Salt Lake CC where he will receive more playing time and will be able to further develop his game.
- Aubin Gateretse (Triple Threat Prep). 19 year old Center Gateretse left Spirou Charleroi to further work on his individual skills at Triple Threat Prep School. At Charleroi he averaged 4.9 ppg & 2.6 rpg in TDM1 last season. He was also a member of the Belgian U18 National Team.
- Noah Anthony Boffel Baka (Combine Academy HS). The 16 year old and 1m82 tall native from Mons who played for Spirou the past 3 seasons is currently living his first experience abroad as he committed to Combine Academy HS. After participating in a camp organised by our friends from European Gladiators Basketball in Paris, the youngster immediately drew the attention from the coaches of Combine Academy and was offered a scholarship on the spot to finish his last 2 years of High School in the USA.
- Loic Pirotte (Combine Academy Prep). One of 3 Belgian youngsters that went through European Gladiators Basketball and were picked up by Combine Academy Post-Grad school to further develop their skills. The 18 year old Pirotte previously played for Bertrix before making the leap across the ocean.
- Gilles Vrancken (Combine Academy Prep). The young guard from Liège seems to have adapted the best so far to his new environment at Combine Academy and shined at the Core4 Classic where in 2 games he averaged 17.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.0 apg & 2.0 spg.
- Mickaël Eluki (Combine Academy Prep). The 18 year old native from Waterloo and former player from Schaerbeek also went through European Gladiators Basketball to find a spot at Combine Academy where he will spent this season in search for a scholarship at an NCAA school.
- Max Dehon. After 2 seasons at Northwest (NJCAA) – where last season he averaged 9.5 ppg & 4.6 rpg – the Brussels native initially committed to Faulkner (NAIA) for this upcoming season. However, after the global pandemic hit the States hard he decided to go to work for his cousin this semester instead and is currently touring across the USA in a Semi-Truck, making deliveries. In January he will return back to school where he will redshirt the spring semester. Currently he hasn’t decided on which school. We will keep you updated as soon as we know more.
This concludes my overview of the Belgian Student-Athletes Abroad. My Overview of Belgian Players Abroad can be found here and my overview of the Belgian Youngsters Abroad can be found here. If I have missed anyone in these overviews please let me know so that I can add him to our ‘To watch’ list.
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