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BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE Phoenix 2005 - Ike Diogu

Ike Diogu won over untold fans during his three wonderful years as the best college basketball player in these parts (hey, now, Arizona Wildcats fans), and it wasn't just for his uncanny ability to stick a ball through a hoop. We liked Ike because he wasn't a suck-up or a stuck-up, but a put-up, a team guy who won the respect of everyone around him by dint of a relentless work ethic and desire to win. Unfortunately for ASU, Ike decided to take his talents to the next level after last season's dismal team record. This strong son of Nigerian immigrants was chosen as a "lottery pick" in the NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors, a selection that turned him into an instant millionaire.

Sure enough, our fondest memory of Ike came on the floor of the Wells Fargo Arena, where the Sun Devils play their home games. But it wasn't about him dunking a basketball, blocking a shot, or using that big butt of his to move an opposing player out of the lane. No, we'll remember most that moment last December 21 when the ASU women's team upset powerful Connecticut at the arena. Ike, who was in attendance as a fan, danced onto the floor and joyously jumped up and down with dozens of other ASU students. That was Ike, blessed with athletic skills and an inner grace that elude all but a few of us -- and a hell of a decent guy to boot.

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