Destiny's Child

Ike Diogu's the Pac-10's player of the year. Will he stay at ASU or go to the NBA for millions?

On the way, two or three people honk at him, and he waves back. Someone hollers out of a car window, "Double-double, Ike, double-double," referring to Diogu's habit of scoring in double figures in both points and rebounds.

ASU takes a surprising 16-point lead into halftime after Diogu hits a three-pointer at the buzzer, but prosperity definitely isn't this team's forte.

The Beavers storm back to take a one-point lead with six minutes left, shortly after Diogu collects his fourth personal foul. Thanks largely to the inspired play of forward Serge Angounou, the Devils retake the lead, but it's a mere two points with 41 seconds to play.

Ike Diogu in decision-making mode
Peter Scanlon
Ike Diogu in decision-making mode
Diogu's future plans aren't a slam dunk.
Peter Scanlon
Diogu's future plans aren't a slam dunk.

ASU's Bryson Krueger runs the baseline looking for a teammate to pass the ball to, but no one's open. About 40 feet away, Diogu screams for the ball and starts running downcourt.

Krueger lets it fly.

An Oregon State player sprints toward Diogu, getting there at the same time as the ball. Diogu fully stretches out his long arms and makes a fingertip, over-the-shoulder catch like a tight end. Somehow, he stops his big body without committing a traveling violation, and dribbles forward for a few seconds until the Beaver player has to foul him.

Then he makes both pressure free throws.

ASU wins by two points, 75-73. Diogu has scored 25 points, and hauled in nine rebounds.

After doing his post-game interviews, Diogu heads for the west tunnel exit by himself. He has a happy bounce to his step, and spontaneously breaks into a soul song of undetermined origin.

Diogu and several teammates stop to sign autographs for some kids, then he and Serge step into the misty evening and head back to the dorm.

There, the relief and joy of the moment are palpable. The roommates are joined by half a dozen or so friends, including a few teammates. A girlfriend of Diogu's turns on the oven and sticks in a sheet of chocolate-chip cookies.

The sweet aroma fills the room.

No matter what Diogu says about dealing with pressure, it is off for this evening.

He surveys the room, bantering to this person and that. In this moment of revelry, it's easy to understand why Diogu seems so torn about leaving for the NBA, good as he is and frustrated as he must be with the situation at times.

Ike Diogu knows he'll never pass this way again.

His friend passes him a cookie straight out of the oven.

Diogu savors it.

"Now that's what I'm talkin' about!" he announces, laughing.

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