See Also: Destiny's Child
See Also: Winning Season
It doesn't seem that long ago, but it's almost been a decade since a precocious freshman basketball player named Ike Diogu led Arizona State University to the second-round of the NCAA championships.
His given name was Ikechukwu Somtochukwu Diogu, and he grew up big and strong in the Houston area, the son of Nigerian immigrant schoolteachers.
We wrote extensively about the magnificent Diogu and then-head coach Rob Evans' Sun Devils, and eventually predicted--wrongly as it turned out--that he would be a top-level player in the National Basketball Association.
Diogu was the ninth-pick overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 2005 draft, and in December of that year scored 27 points in a game, a career high.
But because of injuries and other issues, the power forward never really did find a niche in the league, and within a few years became the consummate journeyman.
Now 29, Diogu has played for six teams in his eight years in the league, not a good indicator of real success.
His NBA career may have ended just after the start of last season when he played in two games for the San Antonio Spurs before being summarily dropped.
Diogu finished last season playing in obscurityfor the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, a Continental Basketball Association team based in China.
Career averages in the NBA: Six points and three rebounds per game--not so hot.
But weep not for Diogu, a terrific individual with a love for artwork: NBA-related websites show he made at least $10.8 million over those eight years--not so bad.
We mention Diogu because he is about to embark on a special adventure, a trip to the upcoming Olympic Games in London, as a player for the Nigerian men's basketball team.
Don't know how good the Nigerians will be, but Diogu, a fun guy with a passion for the game, should enjoy every minute of the experience.
Another ex-ASU big man, Eric Boateng, will suit up for Great Britain at the Games. Boateng was born in London, the son of immigrants from Ghana.
His career as a Sun Devil was not nearly as luminous as Diogu's, but the Duke transfer had his moments before moving on a few years ago.
The USA team and its host of superstars plays Nigeria one week from this Thursday, August 2. Diogu will definitely have a huge role trying to keep his team in the game for awhile.
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Just maybe, he'll go wild that night and some NBA franchise will be willing to offer him one last shot this fall.
But probably not.