Olu Ashaolu: ''I'm Thankful"

Olu Ashaolu has a different philosophy after watching what his older brother, Sam, went through over the past few months. Now the 6-foot-6 junior, who has transferred to Christian Life Academy in Humble, Texas, lives every day as though it is his last.

The hardest part for Olu Ashaolu was not being able to hear his brother's voice.

The Toronto native had become accustomed to not seeing his older brother, Sam, since both had bounced around recently – Olu went from Georgia to a high school in Texas while Sam spent time at junior colleges in Texas and North Dakota. ``We spoke pretty much every day," Olu said. "I talked to him a few hours before he was shot." Sam Ashaolu was one of five Duquesne players shot in a somewhat random act of violence on the campus back on Sept. 17. Ashalou was the most seriously injured after being shot in the head. Olu remained at Humble Christian Life until late October, when he made the trip to visit Sam in Pittsburgh.

``The first time I saw him he was sitting down watching practice," Olu said. "It was great to see him walking."

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound junior has somehow managed to play in every game this season despite having his thought wander towards his brother in nearly every practice and game.

``He was torn up a little bit at the beginning," Christian Life coach Russell Johnson said. "But he got better and made him bond closer with his teammates."

Ashaolu has averaged 19.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as the team has started off 22-4.

``He's played inspired," Johnson said. "When something like that happens, you never know how a kid will react. But Olu felt a peace about everything."

Olu, more of an undersized post player in the past, has made the transition to the perimeter full-time in his junior season.

``I feel much more comfortable and I've made strides with my outside shot," Olu said.

Olu said that his priorities are different after everything his family has had to endure of late. Now he'll try and stay close to his home in Toronto for college and that leads one to believe that Rutgers and Syracuse are atop his list. The other schools he mentioned are Arizona, LSU, Washington, Georgia, Michigan State and Baylor.

``I want to stay close to my family," Ashaolu said. "That's one of the things I learned. I also learned that you never know what's going to happen. Be thankful for every day."


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