Special to FoxSports.com
The sitting still is not something Faisal Aden is getting used to.
He has been on the move his whole life.
Aden, a 6-foot-4 junior at Washington State, usually sits to start games for the Cougars. Aden is the team’s sixth man. He is one of the top sixth men in college basketball. He is also the team’s second leading scorer.
The sitting has been an adjustment. You see, Aden has been moving around long before he enrolled at the Pac-10 school. Aden left war-torn Somalia when he was seven years old with five of his siblings and his parents.
“I don’t remember a lot,” Aden said. “It’s a blurry process. I know we left, it was hard and I grew up in a much safer place.”
The family settled in San Diego.
Now, finally, he is in the most stable place he’s been in since he was a junior high school student.
Aden went to three high schools. He spent time at God’s Academy in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. He committed to Ranger Junior College after spending time at God’s Academy, the basketball players-only private school.
Thanks in large part to Tim Miller, his high school coach at God’s Academy, Aden enrolled at New Mexico State because “that was the only Division I school that I could get into.” God’s Academy was on the NCAA watch list. The school based out of Miller’s home was essentially a traveling club ball team that sewed in academics through a glorified school mom.
Aden spent a semester at New Mexico State. He never played and took a few classes. When it was determined that he would not be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, he left the WAC school.
He left the dry heat of the desert and replaced it with Tampa humidity so thick that you needed a jack-hammer to plow through the sticky Floridian air that was found at Hillsborough Community College.
“At first I wanted to get out of there,” Aden admitted. “But I knew I had to do what I had to do to get to a Division I school. Then I realized that I had to get better first. I had to get my game ready to be a Division I player. I knew what I was capable of. Most people think junior college is a cake walk. It’s not. It is full of good players. That was good preparation for me for where I am now. It was a good experience.”
When he found a stable place to lay his head, Aden found the same kind of stability on the court. He thrived at Hillsborough. As a sophomore, he was amongst the top scorers in junior college.
Moreover, Aden said his two years at junior college helped him decide on what he wanted to do with his future. He set the terms this time.
“No one controlled my destiny,” Aden said. “I wasn’t forced to go to a certain school. I had the chance to really be recruited again. It was time.”
Aden is thriving at Washington State as the team’s sixth man thanks in large part to feeling comfortable with the structure that Ken Bone’s program has provided for him.
“This is a first for me,” Aden said about his role as the team’s sixth man. “At first I didn’t like it, to be honest with you. But it was something that I had to do. I had to learn to be ready when I was called upon. I learned quickly that it is still basketball at the end of the day.”
He is also taking advantage of a bigger role when asked to start.
When Reggie Moore was suspended for a marijuana-related charge earlier in the year, Aden stepped into the starting lineup and thrived. When Aden starts, Washington State is 8-1. He averages 16.5 points a game.
Starting or not, Aden is finding opportunities to help Washington State find ways to win.
“All I know is this – I’m in the game when it’s close. If I’m not, coach will look down the bench and say to me ‘Get in there and go do something good Faisel,’” Aden said.
So far, so good.