LA JOLLA, Calif. — The uncertain playing future of a former UA Wildcat has opened the door for a former ASU Sun Devil to possibly land a roster spot with the Phoenix Suns.
Ike Diogu, the 2005 Pac-10 Player of the Year, was one of five players the Suns added to their 18-man training camp roster.
“With Channing (Frye) being out and them actually needing another big man; and obviously I went to school here, the familiarity with everything, I just thought it would be a good place to come,” Diogu said.
Diogu said he received calls from Boston, Chicago and Dallas but decided on Phoenix after having joined the team’s informal pickup games the past two weeks at US Airways Center.
“I guess everybody was impressed and they offered me a training camp invite,” he said.
Diogu left ASU after his junior season and was the ninth overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft by Golden State. His stay with the Warriors lasted 86 games before he was traded to Indiana.
In addition, he’s made stops in Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio, as well as L.A. with the Clippers.
“It’s all about the right place, the right fit at the right time,” he said of playing on six teams over the course of his six-year NBA career.
“Regardless of how good of a player you are, if you’re not in a really good situation you’re not going to be able to flourish as a player. And then in this business unfortunately tags tend to follow you wherever you go. I have a tag of a journeyman. That’s what it is now.”
Diogu hopes the perception others have of him may have changed after representing his parents’ home nation of Nigeria at the 2012 London Olympics.
“I think I opened a lot of people’s eyes,” he said. In five games, Diogu averaged 14.8 points and nine rebounds.
“I guess the saying, ‘Out of sight, out of mind,'” he said. “A lot of people forgot about what I bring to the table and what I’m capable of doing.
“Just the opportunity to put Nigeria on the map. Not very many people knew about us and to do what we did, especially to have some of the games that I had, it was just unbelievable.”
One game in particular stands out. Diogu scored a team-high 27 in a loss to Team USA.
The U.S. is his focus now and remaining stateside after splitting time last season with teams in China and Puerto Rico is the plan.
“You just got to keep working hard and wait for your opportunity,” he said. “All you can ask for is a chance and then the rest is up to you.”