Former Arizona State star Ike Diogu hopes to lead his native Nigeria to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.
As team captain, the first step for Diogu will playing Uganda, Mali, and Rwanda at the FIBA World Cup African Qualifiers in February.
The top three teams at the event will then advance to the second round of the qualification tournament.
“The World Cup is a huge goal of ours,” Diogu told fiba.com. “We have not played in one [since 2006]. So we want to make sure to put our best foot forward in the Qualifiers not take anything for granted.”
“My passion is to continue to represent Nigeria for as long as I can,” Diogu added. “So I’m excited to be the captain and look forward to a very successful run.”
The 6-8, 255-pound forward was named tournament MVP of the 2017 FIBA AfroBasket back in Sept.
Diogu led the tournament in scoring and was third in rebounding, averaging 22 points and 8.7 boards for Nigeria in six games.
He comes from the Chinese Basketball Association, where he averaged 25 points and 11.1 rebounds last season for Jiangsu Tongxi.
Diogu represented Nigeria at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where he averaged 12 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks.
In 2015-16 he also played in China, averaging 20.3 points and 9.4 rebounds for the Guangdong Southern Tigers and leading the team to the CBA semifinals alongside teammate and former NBA player Yi Jianlian.
In 2013-14, Diogu was named the D-League Impact Player of the Year when he averaged 18.6 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Bakersfield Jam.
A college star at Arizona State, Diogu became the first player ever to lead the Pac-10 in scoring (22.6 ppg.), rebounding (9.8 rpg.), and blocks (2.34 bpg.) as a junior in 2004-2005.
He also was fifth in the nation in scoring that season and was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year.
The 9th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft by Golden State, Diogu has averaged 6 points and 3.1 rebounds in six NBA seasons with the Warriors, Pacers, Blazers, Kings, Clippers and Spurs.
ESPN’s No. 21 ranked recruit in the 2002 high school class, Diogu averaged 23, points, 12 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks on 78 percent field goal shooting to lead Garland HS (TX) to the state Class 5A regional quarterfinals.
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