Go ahead and raise your hand if you four years ago you thought Ike Diogu would be leading the Nigerian National team into the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
You might be hard pressed to find a lot of arms up.
After everything Diogu has been through on his basketball journey around the NBA and this past season playing in both China and Puerto Rico, it’s probably safe to say even the man himself -- Ikechukwu Somtochukwu Diogu -- wasn’t sure if he would be the chosen one to lead Nigeria to London.
It really is a great story, consider the long road Diogu has taken to reach this point of sudden success in his career.
This may not be “The Dream Team”, but the story certainly is dream worthy.
We are after all talking about the ninth overall in the NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors out of Arizona State in 2005 who bounced around with the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Hornets and the San Antonio Spurs.
His career numbers within that stretch: 6 points and 3 rebounds in 225 NBA games played in the last seven years.
But something happened once all 6’9, 250 pounds of Diogu made the jump internationally to play ball.
After signing with Caciques de Humacao in Puerto Rico back in February, Diogu suddenly made the move to China for the 2012 CBA Playoffs. He not only agreed to play for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, but Diogu replaced Kenyon Martin who returned to the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers. In China, Diogu averaged 23 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and then returned to Puerto Rico, this time joining Capitanes de Arecibo and putting up 19.3 points and 9.7 rebounds.
That’s the kind of Diogu some people thought would show up in the NBA, especially as a first round draft pick.
Maybe he was saving it all up for a run at the Olympics and the chance to honor his heritage.
At the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela, Diogu showed numerous times why he is the heart and soul of the Nigerian time. None other was more prevalent that during Team Nigeria’s win over the Dominican Republic, 88-73.
His final numbers: 25 points and 10 rebounds.
No only was it the country’s biggest win in international competition, but it catapulted the team to London where they are no doubt the Cinderella story and just might shock some teams.
And as Nigeria’s team leader, Ike Diogu is all about a good story these days.