Alumni Q&A: Zion Tordoff

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PRESTON, Lancs. — Catch up with Myerscough Basketball Academy alum Zion Tordoff, who is coming off his first season at Casper College in the United States.

Tordoff featured in 23 games for the Thunderbirds in 2017-18, including eight starts, where he averaged 5.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in nearly 17 minutes per contest as a freshman. He shot 48.4 percent (46 of 95) from the floor and tallied 119 points on the season.

The Bradford native graduated from Myerscough College in the summer of 2017 where he was an EABL West All-First Team selection and Conference Player of the Year following the 2016-17 season. Tordoff committed to Casper last June before capping off a strong season by ranking in the Deng Top 10.

Can you summarise your experience in America so far?

“My first year was amazing! It was a huge year for me to adapt and learn a lot of aspects on the court and off the court quickly. I guess this goes for anyone, but being an international and a freshman in college, you have loads to learn in a short space of time — You’ll make some mistakes but how you come back is crucial.”

What differences do you notice between the basketball systems in America and the UK?

“The competitiveness and speed is something that stuck out to me straight away. Guys in England are still very competitive, but there are different mindsets between how some British players play and how Americans plays.”

What adjustments did you have to make to be in a position to be successful?

“Keeping my body healthy was a huge factor, so making sure I was sleeping and eating the right things was something I had to maximise. On the court, it’s about being smart and efficient therefore you gotta read the game and find ways to help the team out and read what the opposition gives you. This will only get better with the more experience and analysis you do.”

What did you learn about your own game?

“I played multiple positions at Casper, which made me learn different things at each position at a better level. This helped me exploit certain aspects on offence with my skill set.”

You dealt with an injury during your first year at Casper. What did you do to stay positive?

“I never thought about it. As soon I step on the court, it’s no excuses and I do what I can to help us win games. It’s tough playing through injury, but having the mindset of wanting to bounce back and show my capabilities is what kept me motivated.”

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Photo: Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

How Myerscough prepare you to make the transition to being at an American university?

“Myerscough has an amazing set up with great  and experienced coaches, who understand what it takes to get to the next level. I gained a lot of exposure, success, court time, and learned how to be a leader. The set up really simulates an American college culture along with classwork.”

Has it been difficult to adjust to a new system?

“No. I’m used to moving around programmes and teams from the last few years (Myerscough, Lancashire Spinners, National Team). Coach [Dan] Russell is a great coach and the concepts were built into the team very quickly. I feel that moving to a new team will always be a challenge and it takes a while to learn the new concepts, but over time, the adjustments came along efficiently.”

What advice do you have for those at Myerscough who aspire to receive an athletic scholarship to an American university?

“All the work that you put in over time within every session you do is a chance to make a difference; you can’t take a minute for granted. Whether it’s team practice, individuals, strength and conditioning, and your own workouts, always simulate it being in a game and how you’re going to improve and the rest will sort itself out.”

Off the court, what has stood out to you experience wise?

“Travelling to many places I never thought I would have is an amazing experience. Seeing different parts of places and learning about the culture also makes it exciting.”

Was there a stereotype about England that your teammates believed that proved not to be?

“Everyone just assumed me and Ayo [Nuwe] were really posh from the fact that we’re British. A lot of people also thought London was a country and it took a while for me to explain for them to understand.”

Was there any surprising or unique that you learnt that you didn’t know going into the experience?

“With Wyoming being a huge state, it gives you a huge realisation of the size of the area and USA as a country. I didn’t know what to expect when going to Wyoming, but I can happily say the people made me feel extremely welcome and I really wanted to succeed as part of the Casper College programme. It was great to share the experience with different cultures and nationalities within the college and I’m excited to experience it all once again.”

For more information about Basketball Studies courses at Myerscough College, click here, and check out our recruits page.

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Allen Gunn is a graduate of the University of Salford with a Masters degree in Journalism.