From 2002-2005, Ike Diogu, whose full name is Ikechukwu Somtochukwu Diogu, was one of the most fearsome scorers in the Pac-10, averaging better than 22 points per game in his sophomore and junior campaigns at Arizona State. He racked up honors, including Pac-10 Rookie of the Year in 2002-03 and Pac-10 Player of the Year and an AP All-American distinction in 2004-05.
Diogu chose to forgo his senior year to become a professional and was selected No. 9 overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. From there, the forward enjoyed a six-season career in the league from 2005-06 to 2011-12, excluding the 2009-10 campaign that he did not play. Diogu featured for a handful of teams – the Warriors, the Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs – before exiting the NBA.
After the Spurs cut Diogu in 2012, he joined China’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers for the CBA Playoffs, then moved to Capitanes de Arecibo in Puerto Rico to round out the calendar year. He continued to bounce between the two leagues for the rest of the campaign, playing for the CBA’s Guangdong Southern Tigers and Puerto Rico’s Leones de Ponce before the end of the season.
The following year, Diogu signed with the Bakersfield Jam, with a failed tryout with the New York Knicks preceding his entry into the NBA’s Developmental League. He did well enough to be selected for the 2014 NBA D-League All-Star Game and was named the league’s Impact Player of the Year for the campaign.
Shortly after the recognition, Diogu went back to Leones de Ponce, helping the club win a championship. He then went back to China, joining the Dongguan Legends for the 2014-15 season and switching back to the Guangdong Southern Tigers for 2015-16. He stayed in China for another two years, bouncing between the Jiangsu Monkey King and Sichuan Blue Whales, before again heading to Puerto Rico. Vaqueros de Bayamon added Diogu in 2018, and he appeared in 18 games. Throughout his overseas career, Diogu has consistently scored at a high rate, often posting 20-plus points per game in each season in the CBA.
On Aug. 12, 2019, the forward finally chose a new nation to entertain with his hoops. The Shimane Susanoo Magic of the Japanese B. League added Ike Diogu to its ranks.
“I am extremely excited to continue my career in Japan,” he said in a press release. “I am especially looking forward to meeting with and playing in front of the Shimane fans, as I have heard that they are some of the best in the country … I can’t wait to play hard and represent the organization with all I’ve got. See you at the games.”
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In October, though, the team released him after the team could not medically clear him.
Diogu’s basketball exploits have extended outside of the club scene as well. He served at Nigeria’s captain at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, representing his parents’ home nation. The vet averaged 6.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in the team’s run to 17th place in the country’s first appearance in the competition since 2006.
He has been a long-time rock for the Nigerian National Team, playing with the team at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics in London and Rio de Janiero, respectively. Ike Diogu was also integral to the country’s success at the 2015 FIBA Africa Championship in Tunisia, winning it’s first-ever gold medal in the event, and at the 2017 AfroBasket in Senegal and Tunisia, which Nigeria placed second, its fourth silver medal in the continental competition.