“Coming back stronger”.
That seems to be the motivation which drives Hans Vanwijn this season. The 2015-’16 Belgian Youngster of the Year who had been on a steady climb ever since joining the EuroMillions Basketball League in 2013 unexpectedly saw his rise grind to a halt last season when his numbers dropped significantly and although his team performed very well you could see his self-doubt and frustration clearly advertised by his body-language and his overall game.
Despite still being the same talented big-man with solid ball-handling skills, great court-vision, solid outside shooting skills and a strong inside game Vanwijn was never able to get all his skills perfectly aligned in that 2nd season with the Telenet Giants Antwerp, which turned out to be a very tough one for him personally.
I’d say he’s definitely back on track right about now.
Whatever the cause of his unexpected dip was, Vanwijn has clearly managed to put it all behind him and has relaunched his steady climb upwards. Now in his third season with the Giants (his 7th season overall) he is currently averaging career highs in Scoring (11.5 ppg), Rebounding (6.4 rpg) and Passing (3.0 apg), while playing a career-high 30.0 mpg (in 26 games played).
With the departure of several of their key players and the complete overhaul of their coaching staff the Giants obviously needed Vanwijn to step up. He hasn’t disappointed and it’s in large part thanks to his play that the Giants are still title-contenders this season as they are currently holding on to a 2nd spot in the EMBL standings and they also find themselves in the Finals of the Belgian Cup where they’ll duke it out with Spirou Basket Charleroi.
Whether the Giants wil be able to extend their Cup title and get a Championship ring on top of it still remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Vanwijn will continue to play his part. After his tough season he has clearly returned stronger, especially mentally. When missing shots or committing silly turnovers or whatever it may be, he no longer beats himself up about it and doesn’t let it affect the rest of his game. His confidence is back, his threes are dropping again and he’s being a leader. Everything we were hoping to get from him ever since he left Cuva Houthalen to join the Leuven Bears to make his debut at the highest level in Belgium.
With all his capabilities again nicely aligned I unfortunately expect that Vanwijn’s stay in the Belgian league could be coming to an end fairly soon as the pull from teams abroad will only continue to increase. His departure would be a loss for our struggling league, but we can’t deny that we would love to see him representing Belgian basketball abroad.
As always, time will tell.
2019-’20 Season Highs:
Points: 20 pts (2 times)
Rebounds: 12 rebs (3 times)
Assists: 7 asts (3 times)
Steals: 2 stls (vs. Charleroi, 24/11/2019)
Blocks: 1 blk (11 times)