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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

International Flavour

Emmanuel+Akot+%2824%29+shoots+the+ball+during+the+UA-Eastern+New+Mexico+game+on+Nov.+1.
Isaac Andrews
Emmanuel Akot (24) shoots the ball during the UA-Eastern New Mexico game on Nov. 1.

Arizona’s 17-man roster is made up of top athletes from around the world. Apart from the U.S., four different countries are represented on this year’s team.

The four international Wildcat’s are DeAndre Ayton, Keanu Pinder, Emmanuel Akot and Dusan Ristic. Not only do these athletes have to deal with the demands of being a Division I basketball player, but they also had to adjust to the culture change.

Ayton, a freshman and the highest rated recruit in Arizona Basketball history, is a native of Nassau, Bahamas. Ayton attended high school in the U.S. before committing to the University of Arizona on Sept. 6, 2016. He spent his first two years of high school playing at Balboa City School in San Diego, Calif. before transferring to Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix, Ariz. Ayton represented the Bahamas in the 2016 Centrobasket tournament. Ironically enough, the Wildcats will go to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament Nov. 22-24, in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Freshman Deandre Ayton slam dunks during the Red-Blue contest on Oct. 20.
Freshman Deandre Ayton slam dunks during the Red-Blue contest on Oct. 20.

Fun Fact No. 1: According to the state department, five to six million Americans visit the Bahamas each year.

Fun Fact No. 2: Five to Six million would be two million short of a projected salary for the No. 1 NBA draft pick in 2018.

Pinder, a senior from Perth, Australia is entering his second season as a Wildcat after transferring from Hutchinson Community College, located in Hutchinson, Kansas. He spent his high school years playing at Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas. Pinder competed for Team Australia at the 2015 World University Games.

Keanu Pinder tries a between-the-legs dunk during the Red-Blue contest on Oct. 20.
Keanu Pinder tries a between-the-legs dunk during the Red-Blue contest on Oct. 20.

Austrailia’s top export: Iron Ores, which account for $48.9 billion (25.8% of total exports) according to WTEx.

Pinder’s top export: Defense and rebounding

Akot, a freshman from Winnipeg, Manitoba, has international experience representing Canada at the FIBA U17 World Championships last summer. He is rated as a 5-star prospect by ESPN and he spent his high school years playing at Wasatch Academy in Utah. With Rawle Alkins out with a foot injury for the beginning of the season, head coach Sean Miller said Akot is a possible starting candidate for that position.

Emmanuel Akot during the McDonald's Red-Blue game on Oct. 20 in McKale Center.
Emmanuel Akot during the McDonald’s Red-Blue game on Oct. 20 in McKale Center.

Statistic:  The coldest temperature ever recorded in Winnipeg was -47.8 C (-54 F) in December of 1879 according to hikebiketravel.com. For a long time, Winnipeg, with a population of 600,00 or more,  was the coldest city in the world.

Side note: Emmanuel Akot has ice in his veins. 

Ristic, a senior, is bringing leadership to the 2018 team as he enters his fourth and final season as a Wildcat. A native of Novi Sad, Serbia, Ristic spent his last year of high school playing at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas just like teammate Keanu Pinder. He represented Serbia at the FIBA U16 Championships in 2011.

Dusan Ristic shoots during the UA-Eastern New Mexico University exhibition game on Nov. 1.
Dusan Ristic shoots during the UA-Eastern New Mexico University exhibition game on Nov. 1.

What to do in Novi Sad, Serbia: Take a free walking tour, according to eternalarrival.com…this is a real thing, people.

What not to do in Novi Sad, Serbia: Take a free walking tour, isn’t that just called walking around?

Arizona benefits from having international players on their roster because they can all bring different skills and perspectives to the team. Ayton, Pinder, Akot and Ristic all have international competition experience from representing their home countries at tournaments. Tournaments, such as the FIBA Championships, are a great recruiting opportunity for college coaches because the top high school age players from all over the world are in one place.

International players who want to play in the NBA have a huge benefit from playing in the NCAA. They get exposure from NBA scouts who attend practices and games and they have the advantage of having their games nationally televised.

The Wildcats haven’t had this many international players since the 2005-2006 season when they finished 4th in the Pac-12. With such a diverse roster this year, it will be interesting to see how they play together.


Follow Teagan Rasche on Twitter


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