New Orangeman Kristof Ongenaet

Syracusefan.com speaks with new Orange basketball player, Kristof Ongenaet. After spending his entire life in his native Belgium, Kristof Ongenaet was preparing to turn professional and begin his career there. But Ongenaet had always dreamed of moving to America.

After spending his entire life in his native Belgium, Kristof Ongenaet was preparing to turn professional and begin his career there. But Ongenaet had always dreamed of moving to America, so a year-and-a-half ago he decided to take the plunge, enrolling at Cuesta College (Calif.) in hopes of earning a Division I scholarship. That dream came true last weekend, when he committed to Syracuse last weekend. Syracusefan.com caught up with the latest SU commit for the lowdown.

 

"I was really convinced about the school and the academics and obviously basketball-wise," said Ongenaet, who committed after a visit to SU last weekend and a several enjoyable meetings with coach Jim Boeheim.

 

"He was a really, really nice guy. Obviously they needed another forward. They only have two true forwards coming back and that's why they were looking to a junior college player," said Ongenaet, a 6-foot-8 power forward who averaged 12 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting 56 percent from the floor last season.

 

Ongenaet, who chose the Cuse over Colorado and Northwestern, didn't know what to expect when he headed to Syracuse for his visit.

 

"It's different, but I like it. Someone told me it was like downtown L.A., but it's not. I'm fortunate because if it was, I don't think I'd be able to do it. It's actually pretty green. Some of the buildings are newer, others are old style," said Ongenaet, who also had been told about the often-frigid weather there.

 

"I think I had a [misleading] experience with the weather. It was warm and sunny, I was wearing a T-shirt the whole time," he said. "I will figure it out, though. I know it's going to be cold."

 

Still, he said, he's used to the cold winters back in his native Belgium, where there's no high school basketball – he played club ball all of his life – and where Syracuse is hardly a household name.

 

"For people in Belgium, the biggest names are Duke and North Carolina. Those were the only two I knew about," he said.

 

He's since heard about the prestige and success of SU's program, however.

 

"I'm really excited. I couldn't wish for anything better than that," Ongenaet said.

 

So what will he bring to the table?

 

"My biggest strength is my great court vision. I'm a very good passer and I'm faster than every big guy I play against. So I can go around them, or if they back off I can hit the 15 or 17-footer."


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