A source confirmed that Ajou has been admitted to Northwestern but that the NCAA has yet to rule on his eligibility. Ajou moved from South Sudan to the States in December 2008, making the early years of his transcript a challenge to interpret.
If he is ineligible as a freshman, he is slated to redshirt.
Before offering its final spot to Ajou, Northwestern tried to get talented guard Mislav Brzoja into school. But despite his earning a 4.0 grade-point average as a senior at Traders Point Christian Academy, he was turned away because of a mediocre standardized test score and/or a spotty academic record in his native Croatia.
Ajou gave New Mexico coach Steve Alford a verbal commitment in the fall of 2010.
The source said he was not certain why Ajou re-opened his recruitment but that he “absolutely” could handle the rigors of Big Ten basketball next season.
ESPN.com wrote of his strengths: “This extra long and lean center is very raw but tough to deal with when he is active and aggressively patrolling the lane. He is a shot changer and blocker on or away from the ball because of his great length and ability to cover ground very quickly.”
And his weaknesses: “He needs to improve his strength and hands but he can finish above the rim with a clear path from offensive glass put-backs or drop-off passes. Ajou is a work in progress but has great upside and will always be a factor when he is in the game due to his size and mobility.”
Northwestern had a horrendous minus-6.6 rebounding margin last season. The next worst Big Ten team, Nebraska, was at -1.0.
By adding TCU transfer Nikola Cerina, freshman Alex Olah and possible Ajou, the Wildcats are poised to own the glass. At least on some nights.
Ajou grew up in South Sudan, not far from the deadly conflict in Darfur. He reportedly attended the Culver Military Academy in Indiana in 2010-2011 before completing a post-graduate year at St. Thomas More School, in Oakdale, Conn.
Basketball coach Jere Quinn told the Norwich Bulletin: “He’s a kid that’s difficult not to love. He’s a poster child for overcoming an extremely challenging and difficult childhood. But yet, he’s remained positive all the time. He really endears himself to people.”