Farewell to Moses: Hoyas center's basketball journey

Farewell to Moses: Hoyas center's basketball journey
April 25, 2014, 4:15 pm
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Earlier this month I wrote about Georgetown center Moses Ayegba transferring out of the program. There were a few details about the powerful center's three seasons playing with the Hoyas, a note that he would be able to play out his final year of eligibility somewhere else next season and a look-ahead to the roster without him in 2014-15.

Alas, there was no real mention of Aygeba the person, what this move meant for his life and his future beyond the court. That's due in part because of how sports are covered which is essentially transactional. What does Player X or scenario Y mean for a team is all most care about. In this case, not much. That's the cold truth, the basketball truth. While Ayegba offered size and is a quality defender, he averaged less than two points per game this past season and the Hoyas have other interior options.

On Wednesday night at Georgetown's basketball year-end banquet, Ayegba helped fill in details of the rest of the story, his personal journey. Along with the other seniors, Ayegba gave a speech about his time on the Hilltop. He focused more on how he got to Georgetown in the first place.

I covered Ayegba during his four years - he sat out the 2011-12 campaign due to injury. I can count on one hand the number of times I heard him speak, at either a practice or following a game. 

Of course, I and other reporters rarely if ever asked Georgetown officials for the backup to be made available. Over the course of season, in the hunt for a Big East title or NCAA glory, bigger storylines existed. Now reportedly Ayegba's story reportedly moves on to the University of Nebraska where former Georgetown assistant Kenya Hunter is a member of the Cornhuskers coaching staff.

Ayegba's basketball journey started in his native Nigeria. He and a friend randomly came upon a video tape of some game, some sporting event. It turned out the game was American college basketball. The specific event involved Georgetown men's program.

Prior to that moment, his sport of choice was soccer. At that moment, "I fell in love with basketball," Ayegba said, adding that he never played soccer again.

The love remained and blossomed despite one clear impediment: The closest court was a 90-minute walk. Moses and his friend would constantly make that walk. Actually, the friend's journey would be even longer. See, he lived closer to the court, but would track back to get his pal Moses and then start the trek together.

The friends would make the walk to the outdoor court even if it rained, figuring at some point it would end and basketball could begin.

Ayegba kept playing and kept growing, eventually gaining attention from colleges stateside. UCLA showed interest, but Ayegba didn't once he learned that the Bruins already had a young center joining the program. As Aygeba continued with this part of the story, the banquet room broke into laughter once realizing the punch line: That recruit was Josh Smith, who later joined Georgetown and started games last season with the Hoyas with Ayegba coming off the bench.

Ayegba thanked John Thompson Jr. for "building the program and making it something I'm proud of." He also thanked his coach, John Thompson III for his patience and the opportunity.

When it comes to details beyond the lines, schools often shield their players from the media. Certainly Georgetown does.

At the top of the speech, Ayegba said he had a senior thesis due the next morning. At the end of the speech, he said, "wherever I go, I'll still be a Hoya for life."