Off the Court:
IKE DIOGU

(Photo by Jessica Hoffman)

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Like most of his teammates, Ike Diogu knows his way around Xbox, PlayStation®3 or just about any other gaming system.

If someone wants to play Halo, Call of Duty or a sports game, he’s up to the challenge.

But Ike is unlike many other gamers in many ways.

For one, he knows what it takes to develop a video game — from the technology to the animation. The 6-8 forward became interested in the mechanics of video games when he was a teenager.

“Growing up, I always played video games,” said Diogu, the youngest of four children. “That occupied a lot of my time. But the more games I played, the more I found myself analyzing them. I found myself thinking ‘This game would have been better if they had put this in.’ ”

Having grown up in a family that emphasized education, Diogu found it natural to learn more about one of his favorite pastimes by studying it. He took it seriously enough to major in digital art when he enrolled at Arizona State University. His courses focused on the creative side of video game development as well as computer technology. They’re all designed to “help you get a better understanding of video games,” Diogu said.

He plans to eventually develop his own games. “I know with all the knowledge that I have," he said, "I have the potential to come up with some good ideas."

Besides working on digital animation, Diogu spent hours honing his athletic skills as a kid growing up in Texas. He said he played sports year-round. He also was serious about his studies, never missing a day of class throughout elementary, middle and high school.

While in high school, he figured it would be better to focus on working on his basketball game instead of football. “I liked playing football and started playing basketball late,” he said. “It was tough, but at the same time, I knew that it was in my best interest to make the move. My coach told me if you keep on working, the sky is going to be the limit for you.”

Although he went pro before graduating from Arizona State, he continued to go back to school during the off-season to earn his degree.

During the past eight years or so, Diogu said he has learned an incredible lesson about what it takes to succeed at your goal.

“There’s no substitution for hard work for anything you do,” he said. “The odds of being a professional basketball player are very slim, but if that’s your mindset you need to do the necessary things it’s going to take to accomplish that goal. It’s not going to land in your lap.”

Diogu credits his parents for serving as role models. The couple, both natives of Nigeria, moved to New York before Ike was born to continue their education and to seek better career opportunities.

“My parents worked extremely hard to make a better life for us. They’re the best parents a guy could have,” said Diogu, who last visited relatives in Nigeria in 2001.

When he’s not on the court, Diogu said he just likes relaxing and chilling with his friends. During the offseason, his typical routine is to work out, watch TV, eat some of his favorite foods like catfish or meat loaf and call up a few of his friends to come hang out at his house.

“I’m a laid-back dude pretty much,” he said.

Ike’s favorite TV shows include "King of Queens" and reruns of "Martin," while his large collection of DVDs includes some of his favorites like "The Last of the Mohicans," "Interview with the Vampire" and "Basic."

And when he’s listening to his favorite music, he’s most likely tuning into music that dates back to the 1970s and ’80s. “I like all kinds of music, especially old music, '70s, disco, R&B… I listen to pretty much everything,” said Diogu, who counts Earth Wind & Fire, Chameleon and Outkast (misspelled) as some of his favorites.

As for those video games?

Diogu eventually plans to come up with some winning products.

“I still need to get some more of my stuff down,” he said. “I have a creative mind. The games I’ll come out with will be top notch.”