But when the Grand Haven graduate jogged out to center court at University Arena following starting lineup introductions on Wednesday, he wasn’t surrounded by fellow Chippewas, but rather Flying Dutchmen.
The 6-foot-10, 255-pound VanArendonk has experienced somewhat of a whirlwind start to his collegiate basketball career, but says he made the right decision in transferring from Divisioin 1 CMU to Division 3 Hope College this summer.
Despite Hope suffering a 80-58 setback to WMU in the Broncos’ home opener, VanArendonk could still share some hugs and smiles with family and friends afterward, a small token that he is indeed at the right place.
“The basketball is still about the same, but here it’s just less time consuming which I’m actually really starting to like,” VanArendonk said, after he totaled 10 points, two rebounds and two blocked shots while battling foul trouble against the Broncos. “Now, it’s allowing me to be who I want to be, instead of being controlled and owned every single day (at CMU).
“Really I didn’t mind it at CMU, but I’m really enjoying myself more and more at Hope.”
As one of the top prep centers in the state of Michigan following his senior season at Grand Haven two years ago, VanArendonk was supposed to be a piece of a prized recruiting haul by CMU — a class that also included Trey Ziegler, one of the top guards in the state in 2010.
The hype surrounding VanArendonk had a lot to do with a memorable moment during the Bucs’ Class A regional final against Rockford, when he shattered the glass backboard at Grandville High School. After a lengthy delay, the game was moved to Jenison High School, where the Bucs prevailed, 39-36.
The “VanAren-dunk” was featured on ESPN, and he was interviewed by numerous mediat outlets around West Michigan as well by the cable sports giant’s program “First Take.”
As a freshman at CMU last year, VanArendonk received minimal time off the bench for the Chippewas through three games, then a bout with mononucleosis wiped out the remainder of his freshman season and forced him to take a medical redshirt.
Instead of getting the chance to contribute off the bench, VanArendonk was forced to watch, which he said was difficult.
“It might have changed some things if I would have been able to play, but I’m not sure,” he said. “That’s all in hindsight. I don’t want to guess what would have happened. What happens happens and God has a plan for everything. I’m just really happy it led me here.”
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