After being the next best thing to the Windex man on the glass for the Weber State Wildcats this past season, junior forward Joel Bolomboy has set his sights on something even more meaningful: a spot on the Ukraine national team.
It was announced on Tuesday, July 8 that Bolomboy will indeed compete with about 29 other hopefuls for a spot on the Ukraine team with designs on playing in the 2014 FIBA World Cup later this summer.
Before you ask how an African-American male like Bolomboy might qualify to play on the Ukraine national team, let this writer remind you that one can be a dual-citizen--that is, born in one country and raised in another--and thus try out for whichever national team he chooses.
In Bolomboy's case, he was born in what is now considered the Ukraine to a Russian mother. (His father was born in the African nation of Congo and Bolomboy himself moved to the United States with his family at the age of three.)
Now that the dossier on Bolomboy is complete, keep in mind that Bolomboy isn't the first American athlete to try to play for another country's national team--he's just the latest. All you have to do to be convinced of this phenomenon is look at the U.S. World Cup soccer team's roster to realize this. Nearly half of the Americans in Brazil were dual-nationals.
Bolomboy didn't arrive at this idea on his own; it was born from his hard work on the court as well. He was the Wildcats leading rebounder, averaging 11 boards per game--third best in NCAA basketball.
He helped lead Weber State to a Big Sky conference title, a conference tournament crown and a berth in the NCAA Round of 64--where it met No. 1 seed Arizona and lost. In that game against Arizona, however, Bolomboy showed that he can stuff the stat sheet against the country's best, scoring 11 points and hauling down 16 rebounds.
“It’s a terrific opportunity for Joel to tryout for the national team,” Weber State head coach Randy Rahe said in a press release the school released Tuesday. “He’s excited for the opportunity and we’re excited for him. If he makes the team, he’ll have a chance to play against some of the best players in the world in one of the biggest tournaments in the world. It’s a great opportunity for him, not only to continue his development as a basketball player, but a great experience to travel and see the world and to play with different players and coaches. It’s a great experience for him to grow as a person and a player.”
Not only will Bolomboy get a chance to see things he hasn't seen yet, he'll have the opportunity to be taught by an NBA coaching legend, former Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Fratello--the person who is now in charge of Ukraine's national team as its head coach.