Ex-USF signee Akol enjoying WKU's wild run
(We'll be live-blogging from here in Dayton, but here's the "plugger" we file, just to hold a spot in the paper in case (fingers crossed) tonight's USF game doesn't end in time for our early editions.)
DAYTON, Ohio -- As improbable as Western Kentucky's continued presence in the NCAA Tournament is, it's even more unlikely that former USF signee Teeng Akol has settled in and found a home with the Hilltoppers.
"We believe. Our team just believes," Akol said after WKU (16-18) rallied from 15 points down with seven minutes to play to beat Mississippi Valley State in Tuesday's Final Four opener.
Akol, a 6-foot-11 center from Sudan, signed with USF in 2008 and spent a month in summer classes with the Bulls before he released from his scholarship due to academic issues. He landed at Oklahoma State, but totaled just two points in five games before transferring to WKU, where he's emerged as a key player. He's averaging 6.3 points and 3.3 rebounds, but in the Sun Belt championship game against North Texas, he went for a team-high 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting as the Hilltoppers clinched an unlikely NCAA berth.
"I felt like I can help this team," Akol said of his choosing WKU. "The main thing is that we play for each other here, and we have big-time leadership from our coaches."
By coincidence, WKU wound up in the same NCAA site as USF, reuniting him with a coach and program that was once his future. He has another year with Western Kentucky, and he's excited about the future of his current team, as well as his original college choice.
"I wish them good luck," said Akol, who said he follows several USF players and Bulls coach Stan Heath on Twitter.