Shola Diop is kind of the wise old man of the Winthrop men’s basketball team. The thoughtful senior from Sydney, Australia, made his way to Winthrop via Yuba Community College in California, and it’s his homeland that tends to stir up conversation the most. That can happen when you’re 6-foot-9 with a noticeable accent. Diop spoke with the Herald after Friday morning’s practice.
You’re from Australia and I imagine around here that gets you a lot of attention when people find that out. So what are some of the questions that people ask you when they find out you’re from Australia?
I’ve had a whole bunch of questions. Kind of silly questions, like do we ride kangaroos and stuff to school. I had someone ask me what language you spoke in Australia. Someone asked me how long the drive was to get to South Carolina from Australia...
Yeah, a whole bunch of strange things. There were some good ones though. People asked me about the government, people ask me about the queen.
So how did you end up here? I know you didn’t drive...
No, I didn’t. I started in junior college in California, just through a coach that used to coach in Australia who’s from America. I started over there and I’m not exactly sure how they found me, but they pretty much recruited me from my juco in California. It’s not a very exciting story.
Basketball pretty big in Australia?
Um, it is. We have a little bit of a basketball community, but it’s not as big as it is here of course. That’s why a lot of Australian kids come over here to play college; we don’t have college athletics in Australia. It’s kind of big, but it pales in comparison to rugby.
At 6-foot-10, I don’t know that there was a place on the rugby field for you...
You know what, I had to play it in school, it was a requirement. I played it; I didn’t do very much, just kind of stood out there and ran around.
You’re a senior, so do you have any idea of what’s coming next?
I should have some ideas, but I kind of just go with whatever comes to me. I’m not doing too much planning, but I am kind of starting to think about it.
You think you’ll stay here, or go home?
No, I definitely do want to go home. It’s been a long time, I’ve been here for four years. I don’t know, for some reason after four years I’m still kind of homesick. So I am going to go home.
When was the last time you were home for Christmas?
I haven’t been home for Christmas since I’ve been in college. But I do get to go home in the summers.
Bret McCormick 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T