Versatile Zornes heads to Shawnee

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

Joe Zornes is a jack-of-all-trades. He plans to master as many of them as he can.

Zornes' total package proved very inviting to Shawnee State University Bears head coach Jeff Hamilton, so he made Zornes one of his basketball recruits by signing him to a letter-of-intent Monday.

"I like his intelligence. He's going to come in with a feel for the game and he can play either guard. He's the son of a coach, so he knows what to do," Hamilton said.

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As a player at Ironton High School, Zornes was asked to do a variety of things. Sometimes he had to shoot the ball, sometimes he was needed to post up inside, other times he was asked to play defense, handle the ball, or just rebound.

Zornes did those things well enough to help the Fighting Tigers to the three straight district tournament appearances, two trips to the regionals, and this past season the Fighting Tigers finished as the Division III state runners-up.

Not only did Ironton go to the state tournament, but it posted the school's first unbeaten regular season with a 20-0 mark before finishing 26-1.

Despite all the successes of high school, Zornes knows things will be different at the next level.

"It's not like high school," Zornes said. "I've played against (the Shawnee players) in open gym. Everyone is bigger and stronger. I can't get guys down low and post up. I have to get more of a perimeter game."

But just because Zornes realizes his game is shifting more to the outside than before doesn't mean he'll have to make a bigger adjustment.

Zornes shot 47 percent from the floor and led the team with a 45-percent shooting touch from behind the 3-point line, something that drew the attention of coach Hamilton.

"The thing he gives us is he can shoot it from deep," Hamilton said.

The 6-foot-2 senior averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds a game and 2.8 assists a game. He was selected to the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches District 13 first team, the Associated Press Southeast Ohio All-District second team and was honorable mention All-Ohio.

A three-year starter for Ironton, Zornes had a quality that was due in part to the Fighting Tigers head coach who just happens to be his father.

"He's one of those all-around players. He recognizes what you need as a team. He loves doing it all and he loves making the extra pass," coach Zornes said.

"He's very knowledgeable because he's always been in the gym and studied the game. It's a good fit. Coach Hamilton lets his kids play and he pushes them to be better players."

Joe suffered a broken ankle in the district finals this past season but played in the two regional games as well as the two state tournament games. something that didn't go unnoticed by the Shawnee coaching staff.

"I like his toughness," Hamilton said.

Joe said his ankle is still not 100 percent, but it hasn't stopped him from playing.

"It's not what is used to be, but it's coming back. It's still a tender and I can't jump as high,but once it heals it will be okay. I try to keep my playing minimal," Joe said.

With an abundance of guards next season, the coaching staff doesn't foresee Zornes getting a lot of playing time right away as he makes the transition to the college game. But Joe's mental toughness isn't buying that assessment.

"They have seven guards, so they said I'll probably not get a lot of playing time the first year," Zornes said. "Hopefully, I'll prove them wrong. I won't back off from a challenge."

Although several schools expressed an interest in Zornes, he said that he picked Shawnee State over Wheeling Jesuit and Marietta.

"It's a good fit," coach Zornes said.

Joe is the son of Roger Zornes and Suelllen Zornes.