From Sudan To Singapore
Colorado Springs, Colo. ē August 6, 2010
If itís surprising that Angelo Chol has become a record-setting shot-blocker at Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego, consider why he began playing basketball in the first place.
A native of Sudan who moved to the United States with his father at age 7, Chol wasnít introduced to basketball until seventh grade, when a middle school teacher suggested he give it a try. After all, it seemed like a natural fit.
ďI was always the tallest kid,Ē said Chol, now 6-foot-9, 210 pounds.
Since then, it seems, Cholís instincts have taken over. He attributes his staggering shot-blocking ability to nature more than nurture, and as a sophomore in 2008-09, Chol set the all-time national prep record for blocked shots in a season with 337 in 35 games.
Now a full-fledged United States citizen, Chol will try to swat away competitors at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore from Aug. 14-26, which features a 3-on-3 basketball competition between 20 international teams.
As Chol and his three teammates Ė K.C. Caudill (Brea Olinda H.S./Brea, Calif.); Sterling Gibbs (Seton Hall Prep/Scotch Plains, N.J.) and Brandan Kearney (Detroit Southeastern H.S/Detroit, Mich.) Ė began training in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 6, USA Basketball spoke with Chol about the team, discovering his game and why he wears No. 3.
You just recently became a full U.S. citizen, correct?
Yeah, I got it about a month or two ago.
What does it mean now playing with the USA on your chest?
It means a lot, like, not many people get this opportunity to do this kind of stuff. Iím just glad that Iím getting a chance to do this stuff, and Iím honored at the same time.
When did you start playing basketball?
Seventh grade. I was 12 or 13.
Who introduced you to the game?
Heís a high school coach now, but back then he was a middle school teacher and was coaching at the same time. He wanted me to try it out see how I liked it. I tried out, and at first I didnít like it that much, but the more I practiced, I started enjoying it more and more.
What was it like developing your game?
I was always the tallest kid, so I started off in the post, getting the ball and doing the drop-step. Thatís the only thing I knew how to do at first, the drop step. But my high school coach (Herbert Hooverís Ollie Goulston) helped me get better. It was a long process, but I enjoyed it.
Your favorite player is Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls, who is also from Sudan. If you met him, what would you say to him?
(Laughs) I canít think of anything off the top of my head. Iíd just be glad to meet him.
You say you wear No. 3 because there are three people who really care about you. Who are they?
My dad, my godmother and my high school coach. Those three have been the strongest influences in my life so far, with the way I am now and stuff. Ö Theyíre all watching out for me.
How do you feel you and your teammates are doing at this point?
I feel good about us. I think weíll go far. These guys are really talented players. Brandanís a good player, Sterlingís a good point guard, and Kyleís a big body, heíll be able post up. Iím feeling good about it.
What are you looking forward to most about this experience?
Iím looking forward to it, to go over there and play and just have fun and to get to see a new country.
You have to essentially play multiple positions in 3-on-3, right?
Yeah. They told me that Iíll have to play some of the guard position. Itís not 5-on-5, so Iím not always in the post. Itís kind of a little different. I donít think itíll be a problem, I can play guard a little bit. Iím not worried about it that much
Howís it been working under head coach Eric Flannery?
I like it a lot. Heís a good coach. Heís a really good coach. He does all the little things. Iím definitely learning.