Kentucky HS team manager gets college offers and free gum after whirlwind month

Photo: Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal

Kentucky HS team manager gets college offers and free gum after whirlwind month

Boys Basketball

Kentucky HS team manager gets college offers and free gum after whirlwind month


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In the month since his story went public, Sam Ajagbe’s life has been pretty good.

Take Friday, for example.

(Photo: Sam Upshaw Jr./ Courier Journal)

The Ballard High School (Louisville, Ky.) basketball team manager was working the Bruins’ freshman game when he got a phone call from a representative of the University of North Alabama, offering Ajagbe a manager’s spot on the basketball team’s staff.

He ended the day as a starter for Ballard’s varsity team, pulling down a rebound in limited action during a 64-59 victory over Central.

“It felt really good,” Ajagbe said. “I was hoping to score … but I ended up not scoring. That kind of sucked, but it’s fine.”

Meet Sam AjagbeThis Kentucky high schooler has NBA dreams – as a manager

For those that missed Ajagbe’s story, here’s the quick version: He was born in Nigeria, moved to the United States at the age of 6, bullied because he was different and didn’t speak the language, cut from Ballard’s basketball team as a freshman, hired as a manager and is now making a name for himself as – according to Bruins coach Chris Renner – “the best team manager in Kentucky.”

Ajagbe’s dream is to work as a manager in the NBA, and he may well be on his way.

Several colleges have been in contact in recent weeks. His dream school is the University of Kentucky. He recently took a visit to Western Kentucky University. LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade sent Ajagbe a letter.

Ajagbe said more than 10 colleges have been in contact but that UK, WKU and Northern Kentucky top his current list.

“It’s been really great hearing from all of these schools,” he said.

Ajagbe also drew the attention of the Extra gum company, which sent him a case of chewing gum after learning he likes to hand it out to players and coaches before games.

After not dressing for a game in his first three seasons at Ballard, Ajagbe has played twice this season. He scored two points in a 73-46 victory at Portland Christian on Jan. 29. During Ballard’s Senior Night festivities Friday, Ajagbe got the starting nod and played about two minutes.

Ajagbe plans to be back in his role as team manager when the Bruins host Kentucky Country Day on Tuesday in a 28th District Tournament opener.

“I didn’t really care (about playing time) because I love what I’m doing,” he said. “But getting out there on the court really made me smile.”


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