Forward Joey van Zegeren has been away from the men's basketball team since the start of 2015, and now he's making that change permanent.
In a release Thursday night, Virginia Tech announced that van Zegeren will be leaving the program, becoming the latest player from the pre-Buzz Williams era to look for opportunities elsewhere.
The redshirt junior will remain on scholarship with the team and is still on track to graduate in May, even though the school notes that he "likely will continue his playing career at another institution or play professionally next season."
Williams suspended van Zegeren indefinitely back on January 2, and he says he met with the forward a number of times to work out the best solution for both parties.
Joey and I met several times over the past week," Williams said. "Today, we decided that it would be best if he leaves the team to focus on completing his degree and focus on his development as he looks toward the next phase of his basketball career."
Williams refused to divulge specifics about what van Zegeren did or said to earn his first suspension, saying only it stemmed from an incident in practice.
"I think we've been transparent in handling what we said, but I do think that at some point you have to be a part of a team. And what happens within a team is for the team, that's not me trying to hide anything," Williams said after the team's loss to Syracuse on January 3. "Joey's a really, really good kid. He didn't handle himself well, and there has to be right and has to be wrong, and he was wrong. He knows he was wrong. Our team knows he was wrong."
Van Zegeren was one of the few big men on the team, and earned plenty of early playing time. He only started three games this season, but he'd already notched career highs in points and rebounds per game with 9.8 and 5.3 respectively.
Now, the team is left with only three forwards that could conceivably play this season: freshman Satchel Pierce, junior Shane Henry and senior Christian Beyer.
But even with van Zegeren leaving prematurely, Williams insists there are no lingering hard feelings on his end of things.
He is good young man who continues to grow as a person and a player," Williams said. "I will be proud of him when he walks across the stage in May as a Virginia Tech graduate."