Big city talent, small town pride: NWC’s Torbert a leader on and off the court

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Asked how he describes Powell and Northwest College to his friends back home, Northwest College sophomore and Southfield, Michigan, native Reme Torbert chuckled.

“It’s so quiet here; I love the atmosphere,” he said. “They wouldn’t believe how laid back it is.”

Torbert just started his second season as a Trapper, following an off-season that was a bit chaotic. Former head coach Brian Erickson stepped down prior to the start of the season to assume the role of athletic director at NWC, and his replacement, interim head coach Dawud Abdur-Rahkman, wasn’t hired until a week before the team’s first game. Torbert made sure to touch base right away with his new coach, a gesture that was appreciated.

“Reme was one of the first kids that reached out to me when I first got the job,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “He was very accommodating in terms of letting me know what was what and who was who. I felt like from the very beginning he was a guy that knew how all of this operates and wanted to be a part of the solution.”

As the new coach and a host of new players have started to settle in, Torbert is once again enjoying the game of basketball, a sport he’s been playing as long as he can remember.

“I started playing basketball when I was about 5 years old at the recreational center [near home],” Torbert said. “When I first touched a ball, I didn’t stop dribbling it. I started playing on a AAU traveling team when I was 8, and have just loved the game ever since.”

Torbert was a four-year varsity player at Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology and a captain his senior year. (He also played on the AAU 1 Nation team, part of the Under Armour circuit.) Southfield A&T, located in a suburb of Detroit, boasts an enrollment of over 1,600 students (for a bit of context, NWC’s enrollment this fall semester stood around 1,500), and has produced some talented players.

After graduation, a mentor of Torbert’s suggested Northwest as a possible landing spot to help the shooter develop his game. Former NWC assistant coach Hamidou Conde recommended Torbert to then-head coach Brian Erickson.

“They told me they liked my game,” Torbert said of Conde and Erickson. “They felt like I could come here and make an impact, and I just fell in love with the atmosphere here.”

Torbert played in all 30 games as a freshman for the Trappers last season, starting 28 of them and averaging 13.4 points a game. A couple of four-year schools expressed interest following the season, but Torbert decided to do one more year at NWC.

“I had a few offers, but I felt like I needed to come back and work on my game some more,” he said. “I need to get bigger and work on the little things to be the best player I can be at the next level.”

Torbert’s averaging 16 points per game this season, despite an injury.

“Reme [Torbert] comes out and gives 100 percent all the time. He wants to win,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “And I think he’s really good with his teammates when he’s on the bench as well, which is not always the case with some of your better players.”

The Trappers are off to a slow start at 4-7, but are showing signs of improvement. As the team adjusts to a new coach and a new system, things are beginning to fall into place.

“Playing for a new coach, we face a lot of challenges and adversity, but it shows the type of character that each player has,” Torbert said. “We’re learning some life lessons about persevering and trying to stay consistent.”

Asked what he enjoys most about playing at NWC, Torbert says the fans and the community have made it an ideal situation for him.

“Everyone here is very friendly, and they like to see us play,” he said. “I just really like it here. I’ll miss the fans the most, and the atmosphere. It’s so calm and quiet.”

Though Torbert is undecided on his next step after this season, he plans to continue his playing career at a four-year school. Abdur-Rahkman said Torbert has the skill set to succeed at the next level.

“He’s a gamer,” the coach said of Torbert. “He’s one of those kids where things may not be going well, but he manages to turn it around. He has a short memory, he doesn’t let things bother him, which is always a requirement for a player in his capacity.”

“Plus, the kid can shoot,” Abdur-Rahkman added. “He has a nose for scoring.”

As for this season, Torbert thinks the Trappers have the talent to make some noise once conference play starts.

“We’d like to win Region IX,” he said. “I’d like to prove to myself that what I worked for this summer will pay off. I feel like we have the talent, we just have to put it together and work hard. If we can do that, the sky’s the limit.”

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