A strange, fascinating basketball story had a brief chapter at Northwestern, but it's apparently over: 7'2, 22-or-23-year-old South Sudan native Chier Ajou will be leaving Northwestern, having played just 32 minutes in his two years with the Wildcats.
First reported by Nick Medline:
#Northwestern basketball announces that RS freshman center Chier Ajou will transfer.— Nick Medline (@NickMedline) January 7, 2014
In his two years at Northwestern, Ajou never broke into the rotation. His first year was technically a redshirt year due to, um, back issues? But his second year, there were no reported injuries. He'd presumably have to sit out next season before two years at another school.
His basketball journey, which we tried to break down here -- brought him from a war-torn home -- he reportedly was taken hostage by Arab militia in his homeland -- to the United States, where he played at high schools in Alabama and Indiana as well as a prep school in Connecticut, learning English and basketball and America all at once. He briefly committed to Steve Alford at New Mexico -- "it is like Sudan," best basketball recruiting quote ever -- but eventually joined Bill Carmody at Northwestern.
He played two whole minutes under Chris Collins this year, in garbage time against UCLA, and apparently was behind Aaron Liberman, a walk-on, on the depth chart. If you're 7'2 and can't crack the rotation at a school as strapped for height as Northwestern, there are presumably major fundamental flaws in your game. That's not surprising for somebody as new to the game as Ajou.
Ajou has tremendous physical gifts, and the game has given him an opportunity to have a life he never would have in South Sudan. Hopefully, he finds a chance elsewhere. It's a bummer it couldn't be at NU, because we loved watching him in his brief moments of action. They'll never take that one made three away from us:
Or his various off-kilter attempts at doing basketball things in his other assorted 30 minutes of play.
Strange that the news comes on the same day his supposed cousin, Luol Deng, was traded from the Bulls.
In terms of actual basketball: this means there's a sixth slot in Northwestern's 2014 class, and knowing Chris Collins, it won't be long until it's filled.