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Belgian star Vrenz Bleijenbergh says he would’ve committed to Kentucky before turning pro

(Photo by JASPER JACOBS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by JASPER JACOBS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

After three years of success with the Telenet Giants Antwerp, Belgian basketball star Vrenz Bleijenbergh is currently in the process of preparing for the 2021 NBA Draft. Before turning pro in 2018, though, the 6-foot-10 point forward strongly considered signing with the Kentucky Wildcats.

In a pre-draft interview with Zach Schumaker, Bleijenbergh said he held an offer from Kentucky and wanted to play for John Calipari in Lexington, but ultimately decided to focus entirely on basketball at the professional level. Struggling a bit with academics in Belgium, the projected draft selection didn’t want to juggle schoolwork in America on top of practice and training.

“I was very close to Kentucky, so I would’ve picked Kentucky, I think,” Bleijenbergh told Schumaker. “… I knew I wasn’t the best student and I was not good at school. My points were okay, but I knew from talking to a lot of guys that it’s not easy. You’ve got to be mentally strong to combine practices, go to school, wake up early… It’s not that that’s really difficult for me, but if you’re not a good student here in Belgium, it’s going to be even harder over there. You’re away from family, it’s not easy.”

And while he feels he ultimately made the right decision to turn pro and sign with Antwerp, there are times he regrets not going to college and playing for Calipari at Kentucky.

“I made the decision to go pro, and I think it was a good decision because I can focus on basketball where I can get better, get stronger,” Bleijenbergh added. “I think I made the right choice, but sometimes I have a little regret that I didn’t do it because maybe it would’ve been an easier way for the draft and stuff, could’ve worked with good coaches, good players, but it is what it is.”

In 2020-21, Bleijenbergh became a regular starter for Antwerp and was ultimately named the Pro Basketball League Rising Star at the end of the season after averaging 9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals per contest in 41 total games played. Now, he’s considered a fringe first-rounder in next month’s NBA Draft.

Would you have liked to see the Belgian star suit up in blue and white?

For more of Schumaker’s interviews with top high school, college and pro basketball players, head over to his YouTube channel here.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

11 Comments for Belgian star Vrenz Bleijenbergh says he would’ve committed to Kentucky before turning pro



  1. SuperTroy18
    1:15 pm June 17, 2021 Permalink

    Just hearing what he had to say, it sounds like he made the right choice. Could’ve been a recipe for disaster had he just stopped going to classes once he got homesick and saw how difficult it is to succeed at UK. Would’ve been interesting to see what he could’ve done here, but sounds like we dodged a bullet. Some kids aren’t ready for that kind of commitment at 18 and 19. Staying is best for some. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like for him being in such a completely different country. Would’ve been a culture shock probably.



  2. ClutchCargo
    1:43 pm June 17, 2021 Permalink

    I guess he had never heard of UNC…



  3. Mr.Incognito
    3:37 pm June 17, 2021 Permalink

    He would have a hard time being an African American Studies major



    • saywhatnow
      10:49 am June 18, 2021 Permalink

      What does this even mean, my guy?



  4. 2Dogs
    3:47 pm June 17, 2021 Permalink

    He wanted to commit but he kept waffling.



  5. T-Dog
    4:37 pm June 17, 2021 Permalink

    Know your strengths, know your weaknesses. Sounds like this guy is pretty in tune with what his are.



  6. Swizzle
    9:06 pm June 17, 2021 Permalink

    So he didnt wanna do school work



  7. UKInsider
    8:36 am June 18, 2021 Permalink

    He forget to mention balancing sorority girl visits in the Wildcat Lodge. Those can be draining…



  8. Megan
    1:51 pm June 18, 2021 Permalink

    I think this is an under-appreciated part of a recruit’s decision-making process. Cal likes to say Kentucky isn’t for everyone. Well, college isn’t for everyone. Not a knock against those who have a hard time in school. That’s just the way things are. And it has to be a factor in why some recruits opt not to go to college even for a year.

    I have a lot of respect for his honesty. And yes, it sounds like he made a good decision.