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The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona inducts Christian Koloko into Arizona Ring of Honor

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Marison Bilagody
Arizona men’s basketball player Christian Koloko (35) goes up against a Cal player to score in McKale Center on March 5, 2022. Koloko finished with 8 total points helping the Wildcats win 89-61.

The No. 5 Arizona men’s basketball team inducted Christian Koloko into the Arizona Ring of Honor during halftime of the University of Arizona vs. Arizona State University game on Saturday, Feb. 17. Koloko played for the Wildcats for three seasons before being drafted 33rd overall by the Toronto Raptors in the 2022 NBA Draft.

“I loved my time at Arizona, I love the fans, I love everyone here,” Koloko said.

During his junior season at the UA (2021-2022), Koloko etched his name in Arizona history, becoming the first Arizona player to be crowned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Koloko showcased his defensive prowess with 102 blocks, tying the Arizona single-season record and averaging 2.8 blocks per game, solidifying his reputation as a defensive powerhouse. Koloko was also named the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player, becoming the first player in conference history to win both awards in the same season.

“That was my goal [to be inducted],” Koloko said. “I did everything I could to complete that goal and it happened, so I’m happy.”

During his first season with the Raptors (2022-2023), Koloko averaged 3.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and one block per game. While Koloko’s defensive prowess caught the Raptors’ eye, his offensive limitations proved a significant obstacle, restricting his playing time within the rotation towards the end of his rookie season.

“The NBA is the best league in the world,” Koloko said. “It can’t be better than that, and I’m just grateful and thankful [to be in the NBA].”

On Oct. 2, 2023, shortly before the start of the 2023-2024 season, the Raptors announced Koloko would be sidelined indefinitely due to ongoing respiratory issues. Koloko remained sidelined throughout the first half of the season before being waived by the team on Jan. 18.

Several teams immediately showed interest in signing Koloko, but news quickly revealed he was dealing with a blood clot issue, which poses a significant threat to his future in the NBA.

“It was tough. You just gotta stay positive, recover and get healthy,” Koloko said. “I want to get back out there and play basketball.”

The league promptly notified all teams that Koloko had been referred to the NBA’s Fitness-to-Play Panel, meaning he cannot participate in any games or practices until he receives medical clearance.

“I’m still in the program, but I’m progressing,” Koloko said.


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