Sun Devil Ike Diogu heads to Olympics

Make it three Sun Devil men's basketball players on the way to London for the 2012 Olympics.

When the Great Britain roster was announced, it was good to see London native and 2009 Sun Devil graduate Eric Boatengon the roster.

Two days later, the USA Basketball roster was announced, and the youngest player on the team was NBA Sixth-Man of the Year was chosen, as James Harden was selected.

Make it three, as 2004-05 Pac-10 Player of the Year and All-America pick Ike Diogu put Nigeria on his back and led it to an 88-73 win over the Dominican Republic in the final qualifying game in Caracas, Venezuela.

Diogu scored 25 points and grabbed 10 boards en route to MVP honors as Nigeria earned the final men's basketball spot. Nigeria, which came into the tournament ranked 21st in the world, upset both Lithuania and Greece, two of the top five teams in the world, to advance to the semifinals after losing to Venezuela in its tournament opener on Monday. Nigeria fell behind 14-6 in the first quarter before regaining their footing, running off nine straight points as a steal and score by Dagunduro gave Nigeria a 15-14 lead and would never trail again. Nigeria built a 10-point lead in the second half, but could not pull away until late. The Dominican Republic tied the score at 64 midway through the fourth quarter, but Ike Diogu keyed an 8-2 run with a pair of 3-pointers to give Nigeria a seven-point lead.

John Calipari coached the Dominican Republic, and it might have been a case of deja vu for him watching Diogu dominate. In the 2003 NCAA Tournament, Diogu in his freshman year was masterful against Calipari's Memphis Tigers, going 9-of-11 from the field (including two three-pointers) in a 22-point, five-board effort in an 84-71 win in Oklahoma City.

The trio selected to the Olympics this year doubles Arizona State's previous men's basketball participants. Joe Caldwell earned gold for the USA at the 1964 Olympic games in Tokyo, and 16 years later Alton Lister was selected for the 1980 USA team in Moscow that boycotted the games. Shawn Redhage, who helped lead Arizona State to the 2003 NCAA Tournament as a senior, was on the Australian squad in 2008.

Russia and Lithuania also qualified with semifinals victories Saturday. In London, Lithuania and Nigeria will join the United States, Tunisia, France and Argentina in Group A. Russia, China, Britain, Brazil, Australia and Spain are in Group B.