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Ike Diogu left ASU 17 years ago, but his legacy will remain forever

Diogu has traveled around the world for basketball, making significant impacts on and off the court since he was drafted in 2005

031117 ike diogu

Former ASU basketball player Ike Diogu (5) jumps to dunk the ball during a game against Ratiopharm Ulm, a German traveling team, at then-named Wells Fargo Arena on Nov. 17, 2003.


After three years with Sun Devil Hoops from 2003-05, ASU legend Ike Diogu was sick to his stomach the day he took the next step to get to the NBA. ASU had been his home, and he didn't want to leave.

Since that day in 2005, Diogu has played nine seasons in the NBA with six different teams, competed in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics with the Nigeria national basketball team and spent the last 10 years playing with numerous overseas teams, most recently signing with Zamalek SC of the Egyptian Basketball Super League on Jan. 16.

Diogu has enjoyed a long, fulfilling career of basketball across the world — but it all started when former ASU head coach Rob Evans gave him a chance. 

ASU was the first big-time school to offer Diogu a scholarship while he was barely going into his junior year of high school.

"At the time the head coach was coach Rob Evans and he just really saw something in me that nobody else saw," Diogu said. "At the time he offered me a scholarship going into my junior year in high school and if I go back and look at my stats and look at how I was, I don't know how he offered me a scholarship at that point but for some reason coach Evans saw something in me."

It was an easy decision for Evans once he and former ASU assistant head coach Tony Benford went out to see him play in Dallas, where he played on the same Amateur Athletic Union team as former NBA all-stars Chris Bosh and Deron Williams.

"He (Benford) said, 'Coach, I really like this kid Diogu' and so I said 'Let's fly in and take a look at him and watch him work out,'" Evans said. "So we went in there and watched the AAU team work out and I told him I said 'Man, I think he's the best one of them."

Diogu would go on to win Pac-10 Freshman Player of the Year in 2003, then ending his ASU career as Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2005. Throughout his college career, Diogu averaged an outstanding 21.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

"The thing I always tell people is, I came in with no expectations. I didn't expect to me a one-and-done guy or anything like that," Diogu said. "I really just wanted to come in and have a good career and whatever happens happens. So, that's kind of the mindset that I took and luckily I was able to have a couple of good seasons and the rest is history."

Diogu was traded a few times throughout his career in the NBA, and in 2012, he got the option to either sign a 10-day contract with the NBA or move to play overseas in China. Evans told him he no longer has anything to prove in the NBA.

"China is a very interesting place, it's a nice place. It's very different. Coming from the NBA you realize that no league is quite like the NBA," Diogu said. "There's no equipment room. Normally if you need something you go to an equipment room and the equipment manager gives you want you need. That's all out the window once you start playing overseas. You are literally going back to square one." 

Diogu, now 38, realizes his playing days will be done sooner rather than later, and once he is done, he plans on turning his attention to the Nigerian National Team. Specifically, he wants to help build up the youth program with the national teams.

"I think it's something I've always wanted to do just because I know the large talent pool that Nigeria has," Diogu said. "I kind of think with my expertise and the amount of popularity that I have over there, I'll be able to do some really good and positive things for the youth."  

Kyle Dodd, an ASU basketball announcer and former teammate of Diogu, was a senior when Diogu was a freshman at ASU. To this day, what stands out to Dodd is the type of person Diogu was then versus who he is now.

"I tell people all the time, as good as he's been on the floor and his career, he is that good of a person off the floor," Dodd said. "Nothing but good things to say about Ike and he's honestly one of the better human beings I know."

Evans shared a story about when he was talking to NBA teams about Diogu before he was drafted, telling them the person they see then would be the same person they see 10 years later.

"They said 'no money changes these guys.' I said money won't change Ike," Evans said. "That's just who he is. That's the way he has been raised."

Diogu's jersey was raised to the rafters on Jan. 15 when ASU played University of Colorado, cementing ASU as his home and legacy forever.


Reach the reporter at ascott43@asu.edu and follow @AustinScott_16 on Twitter.

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Austin ScottSports Reporter

Austin Scott is a sports reporter majoring in Sports Journalism, and has been writing sports stories for three years. He looks to continue writing impactful, engaging sports stories for years to come. In the future, Austin wants to use his outgoing personality to do play-by-play and live sports production or sports radio and podcasting.


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