Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 1/24/12
Looking for a scorer in case Klay Thompson jumped to the NBA after his sophomore season, Washington State coach Ken Bone found Faisal Aden in a camp for junior college players. The Cougars beat out Fresno State for his services. Two years later, Aden is the national player of the week -- recognized for his role in victories over the Bay Area schools last weekend. Notoriety is something new for Aden, who has flown under the radar much of his circuitous route to major college basketball. Often, that's been a good thing for Aden. He was born and raised in Somalia, where life can be a daily struggle. With the help of a sister who lived in Texas, the Aden family mother, father and seven siblings left Somalia and settled in San Diego when Aden was 7. It was starting to get really bad by the time we left, Aden told the Tampa Bay Times while he was playing at Hillsborough (Fla.) Community College two years ago. If we would have stayed a week or so, it'd probably been deadly. There was no police. No government. You could get shot. Aden attended high school in San Diego before moving to Irving, Texas, to live with his stepsister and attend Gods Academy, a charter high school. He was little known to recruiters, but then-New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus knew an athlete when he saw one and signed Aden to a letter-of-intent. The NCAA clearinghouse had problems with the academic standards at Gods Academy, however, and refused to certify Adens eligibility. Aden landed at Hillsborough and averaged 20 points a game for two seasons before joining the Cougars. I've always wanted to do great things in basketball and always had the confidence that I would do it," Aden said. "I just had the passion for it, and it never dies. Aden does not have a lot of contact with his family, but the Washington State family has given him support and encouragement in his two seasons there. After playing with Thompson last season, Aden has become a go-to scorer in his new role as Cougars' sixth man, pouring in 57 points in last weekend's two victories over a pair of teams battling for the conference lead. Aden was a starter earlier in the season but missed several games with a concussion and was replaced in the lineup by freshman DaVonte Lacy. He's thrived as a sixth man playing starters minutes, averaging 15.1 points a game, second on the team to forward Brock Motum. Were trying to get Faisal the minutes we can, Bone said. Hes handled it well. We talked about it a couple of weeks ago. He understands hes going to play. Its more than playing the first three minutes. It comes down to have many minutes you play. He might have had more minutes last weekend (28 per game) than he did when he was starting. Aden is averaging 25 minutes a game and has adapted well to role as a designated scorer off the bench. To have a guy come off the bench and create like that its a tremendous weapon to have, said Cal coach Mike Montgomery, whose Bears gave up 24 to Aden. Aden is not alone in the role of prime bench contributor in the Pac-12 this season. --Oregon State has seven players who average at least 19 minutes a game. Freshman transfer Eric Moreland, an athletic 6-foot-10, leads the Pac-12 with 36 blocked shots and also is a nuisance at the top of coach Craig Robinsons 1-3-1 trapping zone defense, which the Beavers are using with more regularity after playing man-to-man much of the early season. Reserve guard Roberto Nelson is an Aden-like shooterscorer who is averaging 10.1 points a game. He has made 29 3-pointers, making 39 percent of them. Those guys are legitimately capable of starting themselves," Robinson said. "The way we started practice this season, everything was an open competition. As we got into the season, the rotation worked out that way. Guys have settled into their roles. --Cal, very small after 6-10 center Richard Solomon was declared academically ineligible last week, got some needed interior minutes from 6-10, 250-pound junior Robert Thurman, a former walk-on. Thurman played even with Washington big body Aziz NDiaye in the Golden Bears 69-66 victory on Thursday in Seattle, getting 16 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. He had 20 points and nine rebounds in the weekend games, making 9 of 13 field goal attempts. Robert has responded. You go with the next guy in line. You cant worry about that you dont have. You go with what you do have, Montgomery said. -- Josh Huestis, a 6-7 sophomore, leads Stanford with two double-doubles despite not starting a game this season. Huestis, the 2009 Montana player of the year at Great Falls Russell High, had 26 points in the Cardinals sweep of Utah and Colorado two weeks ago, scoring 13 point in each game and punctuating the sweep with four blocked shots in a victory over Colorado. He averages 6.1 points and 5.2 assists in 21 minutes a game and leads the Cardinal with 18 blocked shots. Guard Anthony Brown, who has been hampered by ankle injuries this season, has been in and out of the starting lineup. Depth is something you are fortunate to have. They know they are going to contribute, Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. Its about the group."
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