Roessink transitions to college basketball, life in America

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Hidde Roessink poses during Oklahoma State men's basketball media day on September 24, 2019 in Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 

Hidde Roessink traveled on an unconventional road to Stillwater and Oklahoma State University.

Whereas many basketball players dream of one day playing professionally after college, Roessink did the opposite.

Roessink, a freshman on the OSU men's basketball team, played in the professional Dutch Basketball League before coming to Stillwater.

Although he loved playing in his home country, he always dreamed about playing college basketball in America.

“Since I was 10 or 11 years old, I actually always wanted to play college basketball,” Roessink said.

Roessink was faced with several adjustments on and off the court in his transition from Europe to America.

Roessink, who was born in Arnhem, Netherlands, played as an amateur in professional basketball since he was 17.

His first taste of professional basketball was with the Dreamfield Dolphins, a club he helped promote to the Promotiedivisie, the second division of basketball in the Netherlands.

After that, Roessink moved on to the Dutch Windmills, a team that former NBA first-round pick Geert Hammink coached.

At 18, Roessink decided it was finally time to follow his dream.

Coach Mike Boynton said he found out about Roessink after John Cooper, the Cowboys’ special assistant to the head coach, was in contact with Roessink’s coach.

Boynton watched videos of Roessink playing for the Windmills and wanted him to come to Stillwater for a workout.

“We got some video, and (we) were really, really impressed,” Boynton said. “Except for European video is kinda hard to tell the competition level. Sometimes the video isn’t the best quality. And then we brought him here to work out for us, and it was a no brainer.”

It was a perfect match. Boynton got another recruit for the class of 2019, and Roessink received an opportunity to show off his talents in America.

When Roessink, a 6-foot-10, 220-pound power forward came to Stillwater during the summer, he did not know what to expect when he started practicing.

What he found out was that college basketball was a lot different from what he was used to in the Netherlands.

“The past 10 practices have been like three hours, which is pretty long,” Roessink said. “I’ve never really been at practice that long before.”

Fierce competition and the lust for victory have defined sports in America. Roessink said he quickly noticed that when practicing with his new teammates.

“The competitiveness is different, too,” Roessink said. “I feel like everybody just wants to win over here like really bad, and I really like that about the team.”

Roessink is one of six active freshmen or transfers on the team, which means the big man will have to fight for playing time. It doesn’t help that senior Cameron McGriff has been OSU’s lockdown power forward, Roessink’s natural position, for the past two seasons.

One aspect that makes Roessink different from the rest of the forwards is his natural talent for scoring. Boynton said Roessink has made a case for being the best shooter on the team.

Although Boynton said there’s an argument for the best shooter on the team, he wanted to see Roessink shoot more.

“He’s gotta be more aggressive,” Boynton said. “He passes up a lot of shots, kinda deferring to the older guys, who have been here before.”

Boynton saw Roessink's natural talent and wanted Roessink to see it as well. 

Roessink said he’s still trying to find his niche. But the more he has practiced with the team, the more insight Roessink has received from Boynton and the assistant coaches.

McGriff pointed out that Roessink’s style makes him different from the rest of the big men on the team.

“He’s really tall, but he can shoot,” McGriff said. “He has a lot of guard skills.”

Although the two will be vying for minutes this season, McGriff sees the potential in Roessink’s abilities.

“He brings another element of versatility,” McGriff said.

Off the court, Roessink said his transition was easy. He had to adjust to the weather and the daily routine of practices and school but has found no problem living in America.

However, one thing Roessink didn’t expect when he came to Stillwater was the family aspect of the basketball team.

“We’re all really close together, it really feels like a family,” Roessink said. “That’s actually pretty different from back home. It’s like actually a real, big family over here.”

When Roessink played for professional European teams, most of his teammates were in their mid-20s, and some had families of their own. For the first time in his basketball career, he has teammates whom he can call family.

Roessink said he enjoys hanging out with his teammates, especially when they have free time to watch sports.

He had a big smile on his face when he talked about the different foods he has eaten while with the team.

Roessink mentioned that the food is different from what he is familiar with, but he has enjoyed foods such as pasta and nachos.

He even told his teammates about his favorite food back home called boerenkool. The Dutch dish consists of mashed potatoes, kale and other vegetables with sausage.

It hasn't been confirmed whether the rest of the Cowboys would enjoy the dish as much as Roessink does.

Roessink added that he doesn’t know how to make it, but he recently found out the team chefs could cook it for him if he brings in a recipe.

It would be a little slice of home while on the other side of the world.

As the Cowboys have inched closer to the start of the regular season, Roessink has become more accustomed to life in college and in America.

He was excited to play in front of the OSU faithful in Gallagher-Iba Arena and for what lies ahead in his career.

Roessink’s transition has been relatively smooth, and it looks like he has made a home in Stillwater for the foreseeable future.

“Everybody is taking care of us as a team,” Roessink said. “There’s not anything really to worry about for me. It hasn’t been that hard, actually.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com