Bigger Than Ball Vol. 5: Aidan Igiehon

Aidan Igiehon is a top ranked basketball player whose aggression and footwork around the basket have colleges from all over the country lining up to see him play.  What’s even more impressive than his ability on the court is the unique journey he has taken to play basketball in the United States.  Igiehon is an Irish citizen, living and going to school in New York.  He’s also one of the most humble kids we have gotten the chance to interview so far.  Here’s our in depth Q & A with the number 55 ranked junior, Aidan Igiehon.  

 

You don’t typically see many kids from Ireland playing ball in the States, how’d you end up coming over to play?

 

It’s funny, I didn’t actually come over here to play ball.  I came over here with my local team called Dublin Lions, they play ball, and I went to this Sixers camp – Philadelphia 76ers.  I was 13, 6’5” – yeah, I was like tall and skinny…and then I was athletic and could dunk the ball.  They were like “yo he’s 13?”, and then a lot of high schools came to see me.  No one really helped me get over here.  I just traveled with my team.  I went from Philly to New York to visit my family, and then stayed a couple months; and then I was playing in the park with my Aunt – my Aunt’s daughter’s Coach is best friends with Dana. He set up a workout, and I’ve been with them ever since.  Never thought about playing with anyone else.  

How was it playing on the EYBL circuit? You were relatively unknown before  you started playing AAU basketball, how did that help your recruiting?

 

On the circuit that’s when I really blew up.  The first session…it was the game against Bol Bol and Shareef [O’Neal] – people were like…like didn’t know who I was at the time.  They were just focused on Shareef.  “theres a kid dunking crazy”, it was me – I was just cocking it back, like ahh!  I had 18 points with like seven dunks and a couple free throws.  After that game my phone started blowing up – they started calling me.  Then I got my first ACC offer.  Syracuse.  After I got that offer, a lot of schools started contacting me.  I was too excited.  Dana was telling me to relax.  I guess he expected it, but I didn’t…Syracuse was like my fourth or fifth, and from then on I had like 20 something.  

 

Who has been the best person you’ve played against so far?

 

Marvin Bagley. Gotta be – and second that Bol Bol.  Bol Bol might be better actually, I don’t know.  He’s nice…underrated.   Only thing is, he’s 7’3” but he hates to play around the rim.  He plays from the free throw line and up.  It’s easier for me to guard big men rather than guards so that made it tough.

 

Which NBA player do you think you play like?

A mixture…I wanna say a mix with Deandre Jordan…and with Anthony Davis.  Yeah – mix that – take a little skill off AD.  My aggression and how hard I dunk the ball is like him.  I am actually very skilled, but many people don’t know that.  All they see is the dunks.  I can finish with both hands and start the break.  It’s tough to show that sometimes because showcase games usually show the guards.  Nobody really knows my name like that so that’s why I’m trying to use this July period to get known.

 

Soccer is the main sport played in Ireland,  and you seem to have great footwork for a player your age – Did you play when you were younger?

 

Yeah, I actually started off playing soccer.  I started playing ball when I was 12, but before that yeah – it was only soccer.  So, I played center midfield – I started off playing right back, and right defensive mid.  I wasn’t thinking about playing in college honestly, I didn’t even know about college athletics when I was younger.

 

Do you still play?

 

I still play soccer for fun, like with my older brother.  He’s 20.  He’s playing semi-pro right now upstate.  He plays in college, but he’s going to be a pro…It’d be cool for me to be able to play for the same school as my brother…I still work out like a soccer player.  When I’m training I do a lot of ladder stuff.  With Dana [Dingle-New York Lightning AAU coach], we start with a couple sprints then some high knees and then other footwork. As you get really tall, really quickly you get kinda slow.

What was the biggest adjustment basketball-wise when coming over from Ireland?

 

The speed of the game, the physicality of the game, and how serious everyone is about it.  In Ireland it’s just fun and games.  Like people here, they work out like one in the morning – I’m used to like, training with a team. That’s how we do it. That’s why the development has been different for me.  I was probably one of the best players in the country back then.  For my age.  There were some good players though.  Now looking back it was kinda like, eh.  There was one guard though, Matt Drummond.  He was good.  I had to wait a couple months before I could play when I came here, just the speed of everything…they threw me into the fire though.

 

Biggest non-basketball adjustment?

 

So basically, I’m in New York so I’m in the city.  In Brooklyn.  So, how there are mad trains and mad buses, and how you don’t use cars to get anywhere…and just the speed of life. It was a big change.  I lived in a very nice estate in Ireland, that you had to drive everywhere. Everywhere’s kinda far…hilly – quiet.  Ireland’s nice, the weather’s just horrendous.  Sometimes you can have all four seasons in a day.  Freezing, then warm, then it gets kinda hot and it’ll rain.

 

You’ve been living in New York for a few years now, do you ever get homesick?

 

Oh yeah.  All the time.  I’ve got a ton of friends and even now, a ton of people follow me like “yo you’re my inspiration”…I actually have to go back and run a camp – I have to give a speech and everything.  A ton of people are going to be there. [laughing] I’m looking at them like, yo I’m just a regular kid – I don’t look at it like how they look at it.  I look at it like I’m just playing ball you know…

What are you planning on saying in your speech?

 

Basically…first thing they’re gonna ask me is if I can dunk.  After that there just gonna ask me questions about my life.  “How can we get there?” They all want to come over, but unfortunately they can’t all come, but who am I to say they can’t.  So I’m going to let them know they have to work hard, and try and tell them how I much work out – and how you have to stay focused on academics. That plays a huge part.  Because I have good academics my recruitment is great.  I have a 3.7 – because of that my recruitment took off.

 

You have well over 20 Division I scholarship offers now, which gives you the opportunity to pick a school that really fits you.  What are you looking for out of the programs that are recruiting you?

 

I want to be somewhere where I can play right away.  My goal honestly is to be a pro.  I’m going to try man.  I just started playing ball..like I’m working hard, so I think I have a chance.  That’s why I work out so much – I’m just trying to work on my skills.  I’m really gonna try.

 

What do you think you need to work on to become a more complete player, and hopefully reach your goal of playing professionally?

 

I think I need to work on outside shooting. ‘Cause i’m athletic enough to play the three, I think if I could spread the floor more I could really be good.  I do a lot of ball handling in workouts, because that’s the goal.  I’m trying to make the NBA.  Obviously still think the academics, so I can play anywhere in the country – and I really have to extend my game. Do the repetition so much so that when it comes game time it just comes naturally.  I’m going to work hard, so that once I get to college, I really can cement myself as one of the best bigs in the country.

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