UA basketball: SD recruit holds trio of leaders in esteem

2011-02-08T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T09:55:33Z UA basketball: SD recruit holds trio of leaders in esteemBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 08, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Angelo Chol doesn't wear No. 1 or any favorite number because it's not just about him. The first seven years of his life put that in perspective.

Chol was born in Sudan.

The UA basketball recruiting target, who is scheduled to decide Feb. 17 on a college choice after visiting Washington this weekend, instead has worn nothing but the No. 3 for San Diego Hoover High School and other teams because he says there are three people who are most important in his life.

Those three are his father, Ajieny, who pushed to get Angelo out of his war-torn and underdeveloped native land; his godmother, Leslie Coughlan, a San Diego attorney who helped guide the family during a process that landed them in Egypt for a year and into the USA on United Nations sponsorship; and Ollie Goulston, the Hoover coach who has mentored Chol on and off the court since seventh grade.

"He's a pretty deep kid," Goulston said. "He's a different kid in a really positive way. I've been doing this a long time, and you don't always get special kids on and off the court."

Even though Chol has grown into a top-75 prospect in the class of 2011 who is choosing from several elite-level schools, he wasn't special on the court for most of his life.

In fact, when Chol first took up the sport in seventh grade, Goulston said he was "probably the worst player I've ever seen."

Chol wouldn't argue that point.

"I was pretty tall for my grade, and one of the coaches said I should try it," Chol said. "I wasn't very good at first. I couldn't dribble, and I couldn't run. It was fun but I couldn't play well."

Goulston stuck with Chol on his youth teams, intrigued by how he looked physically and then later by his emotional makeup. Besides, Goulston said, he wasn't a bad player for very long.

"The difference was his aptitude and his work ethic," Goulston said. "He picked things up very quickly."

Off the court, Chol kept learning, too. He graduated from middle school with a 4.0 grade-point average despite knowing zero English upon his arrival in San Diego, then moved on to Hoover, getting the education his father knew he wouldn't in Sudan.

"In Sudan, you could skip school, and you would never be caught," Chol said. "My dad wanted to get me an education."

By the time Chol hit Hoover, it became obvious he was going somewhere on the court. He was named the San Diego Union-Tribune's Newcomer of the Year in 2008, and the San Diego CIF Division II Player of the Year in 2009 as a sophomore.

Since then, his name has become nationally known in recruiting circles. Scout.com ranks him No. 43 overall in the class of 2011, and Rivals has him at No. 76.

Having become a U.S. citizen, Chol played for USA Basketball's Youth Olympic Games team last summer. And at 6 feet 9 inches and 210 pounds, Chol has expanded his game beyond shot-blocking, with the ability to score from range as well as around the basket.

Even if his best statistic - having more than 1,000 career high school blocked shots - creates a certain image.

"The thing that kind of irritates me is that people still call him 'raw,' but every coach who has seen him doesn't see the same thing," Goulston said. "He's really quite skilled. He's good inside and out."

There's no doubt the interest from Arizona's Sean Miller indicates Chol is more than just a project. Miller doesn't even have a scholarship available now on paper - though off-season roster movement is likely to change that - and has consequently all but ended his 2011 recruiting. Yet Goulston said Miller has firmly offered Chol a scholarship.

The Wildcats hosted Chol and Goulston for a recruiting visit on Jan. 29, and Chol will take his final visit Friday when he travels to Washington. Already, Chol has visited Kansas, Alabama and North Carolina.

"When he gets to college," Goulston said, "everyone's going to say, 'Wow, where did he come from?'"

The Wildcats are hoping that McKale Center fans get to say it first.

Rim shots

• Arizona moved up six spots in The Associated Press Top 25 poll to No. 15 on Monday. The Wildcats are ranked No. 16 in the coaches ESPN/USA Today Top 25 poll.

• Oregon's Joevan Catron beat out UA's MoMo Jones for the Pac-10 Player of the Week award. Catron averaged 17.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in the Ducks' sweep of Washington and Washington State. Jones averaged 21.0 points, 1.0 assists and 0.5 of a rebound in UA wins at Stanford and Cal.

• Fox Sports Arizona is scheduled to replay Arizona's triple-overtime win over Cal today at 5:30 p.m. It will air in a three-hour window, with halftime being eliminated.

Up next

• Who: Arizona at Arizona State

• When: 7 p.m. Sunday

• TV: FSAZ

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

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