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Inside Athletics: Josh Ajayi

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Inside Athletics: Josh Ajayi

"We have to just keeping and getting better everyday."

Briana Cunningham

"We have to just keeping and getting better everyday."

Briana Cunningham

Briana Cunningham

"We have to just keeping and getting better everyday."

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Sophomore Josh Ajayi interdisciplinary studies major and basketball player proved he is a natural on the court after being named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week for having back-to-back doubledoubles in two games.

Ajayi joins junior guard Rodrick Sikes as the only other Jag in the men’s basketball program to receive the honors this season.

Ajayi’s journey to here involved traveling to a new continent and learning a new sport.

“I was born in Nigeria and lived there until I was nine because my parents thought my brother and I would do better [educationally,]” Ajayi said. “Soccer was everywhere, everyone played it, so that was my first sport. I didn’t touch a basketball until I moved to the States. I was about nine when I got to school here, and I was surrounded by basketball so I decided to play.”

While playing in high school in California, he averaged 21 points and 11.5 rebounds in two wins, and also shot 60 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from three-point range and 81.8 percent from the free-throw line.

Ajayi also played prep ball at an academy in Connecticut where the competition was fiercer.

“Playing in Connecticut was a lot harder,” Ajayi said. “The competition was a lot more difficult and I think it prepared me for what playing in college would be like. The academics were competitive, so I knew I’d be prepared educationally as well.”

As a freshman, he was second on the team, scoring an average of 10.6 points per game, he was first in rebounding verging 5.4 per game and he had 24 steals in that season.

Ajayi also posted double-digits in scoring in 17 games and he had three double-doubles in his first year of being a Jag.

This season as a Jaguar, Ajayi recorded five double-doubles and ranks ninth in the conference in rebounding averaging 6.7 a game.

In the game against Coastal Carolina, Ajayi posted 18 points and 12 rebounds, and against Appalachian he posted 24 points and 11 rebounds.

When it came to choosing which university to play for, the decision to come to The University of South Alabama was not a difficult one for Ajayi to make.

“Coach Graves had his eyes on me for a long time,” Ajayi said. “I think they are faithful to their recruits and they don’t wait to pull the trigger on recruitment. As soon as coach [Graves] saw me play, he came to visit me. That really made a big impact on my decision.”

Weeks into conference play, Ajayi is confident in the team’s ability to improve on the season.

“We still need some improvement and we’re still a young team,” Ajayi said. “With our chemistry that we have, I think we are headed in the right direction. We are definitely in good hands with the coaching staff. We just have to keep working and getting better every day.”

Ajayi’s has hoop dreams that he shares with the rest of his teammates, and he hopes that enough hard work will allow the program to obtain that.

“I would really like to see us make it to March [Madness] as well as win a conference title,” Ajayi said. “I think if we continue to work and push ourselves, we can get there.”

To find out more about South Alabama athletics, visit USAJaguars.com.

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Inside Athletics: Josh Ajayi