By Joseph Staszewski
Sydney Zambrotta reaped the fruits of her labor by verbally committing to play basketball at Louisville next year.
The Cardinals showed great interest in the Christ the King girls’ basketball guard during her freshman and sophomore seasons before dialing back their pursuit. Zambrotta’s strong senior summer with New Heights brought a few more colleges back into the fold, including Louisville, which was one of the schools she was hoping to regain.
Louisville head coach Jeff Walz offered Zambrotta a scholarship in mid-July and he and his staff were persistent after that. Zambrotta returned their commitment to her with one of her own during her official visit to the school over the weekend. She told Walz she was joining his program on her last night while out with the team at a local restaurant.
“We were all laughing and that’s when it sunk it that I wanted to be a Cardinal,” Zambrotta said. “I pulled Coach Walz aside and I told him and I told the rest of the team.”
Zambrotta, who also visited Minnesota and Miami, said she went to Louisville with an open mind and not planning on committing. Then she felt welcome there and part of the family at Louisville right away. She praised Walz and his staff.
“I just felt like Louisville was the right fit,” Zambrotta said. “The people there are amazing. I just felt like I had a connection with the team.”
The Cardinals, who saw former Christ the King star Bria Smith graduate after last season, are one of women’s college basketball’s rising programs. The Cardinals reached the NCAA tournament final in 2009 and 2013 and went 27-7 last season before losing in the Sweet 16. Zambrotta is excited to going to such a prestigious program.
“It just means each year they are going to excel for greatness and I definitely want to be a part of that,” she said.
Louisville is getting one of New York City’s best players. She averaged 23.4 points per game for a Royals team that won the Brooklyn/Queens title and lost in the state Federation Class AA title game. Zambrotta had 32 points and six rebounds and took two key offensive fouls late in a CHSAA state final victory over rival Archbishop Molloy. She is the second Christ the King senior to commit to a Division I school after Dominique Toussaint picked Virginia.
Zambrotta is pleased to have the decision behind her. She can now focus on bring a state Federation title back to Middle Village after losing in the final last year.
“That loss to LuHi is still in the back of my mind and making me hungrier,” Zambrotta said. “We wanted that chip last year.”