NOTE: Updates with quotes from San Diego Hoover High School coach Ollie Goulston.
If Class of 2011 post player Angelo Chol had his way, the Arizona basketball T-shirt he wore to Thursday’s press conference would be all that he needed to convey what program he’ll represent starting next season.
Chol, who announced he will play at Arizona at San Diego Hoover’s auditorium and in front of an Internet audience at KBCSports.com, would rather shy away from all of the attention.
“One of his biggest fears is public speaking,” Hoover coach Ollie Goulston told me via phone after the press conference. “He got the chance to work through that fear today.
“He is very unselfish, very humble.I told him, ‘You either have a press conference and get it out of the way, or expect the media to be calling you every day.’ He did not hesitate to have the press conference.”
Arizona coach Sean Miller and his staff, who beat North Carolina, Kansas, Washington and Alabama for the prized recruit, knew of Chol’s intentions 10 minutes before the shot-blocker extraordinaire exposed his Arizona T-shirt for the world to see. Chol personally informed Kansas coach Bill Self and North Carolina coach Roy Williams — the two other finalists for his services — of his decision before contacting Miller.
“He called the coaches himself,” Goulston said. “He’s built some strong relationships with some of them so it was very difficult on him. It was one of those life lessons he had to experience.
“He learned an awful lot and gained a lot of maturity through this process.”
Chol said “Bear Down” at the press conference, when asked about his decision. For Miller and Arizona’s basketball fans, that’s all Chol had to say.
But he later mentioned that the likelihood for playing opportunities and the chance to join the heralded Class of 2011, which includes Rivals.com 5-star recruit Josiah Turner of Winston-Salem (N.C.) Quality Education Academy, was a significant reason for his decision.
“I wanted to be in a situation where I can play and have a chance to win a (national) championship,” said Chol. “I feel we will have a good chance with the class coming in.”
A Sudanese refugee, who came to the United States in 2000 after a brief stop in Egypt, Chol is averaging 24.1 points, 14.9 rebounds and 8.0 blocked shots per game this season. In a December win over El Centro (Calif.) Southwest, Chol posted a line of 40 points, 19 rebounds and 15 blocked shots. He is also just 10 points shy of 2,000 for his career.
He has 224 blocked shots this season and 1,078 for his career. He set a single-season national record of 337 as a sophomore.