Luol Deng named in the Team GB basketball squad
5 July 2012
Luol Deng, a Loughborough University honorary graduate, was today named in the Team GB men’s basketball squad for the London 2012 Olympics.
Luol, 27, is part of a 12-stong squad, which also includes Leicester Riders’ Andrew Sullivan, that was unveiled at a press conference at the Team GB Loughborough Preparation Camp.
Luol, who is 6ft 9in, and was selected to his first All Star game during the 2011–12 NBA season, said: “We have all worked very hard for this opportunity and to have the final 12 named is exciting.
“The next few weeks will fly by and I can't wait to step on the court with my teammates at the Games. We plan to make Great Britain proud.”
Luol was made an Honorary Doctor of Loughborough University (Hon DUniv) in 2009 in recognition of his dedication to improving the lives of children across the world and in particular refugees returning to southern Sudan.
He has hosted one week basketball camps at Loughborough University and is Great Britain’s most high profile player. He plays for the Chicago Bulls in America.
Born in Sudan, he and his family escaped the civil war and fled to Britain when Luol was just eight. He became a British citizen in 2006.
By the age of 13 Luol was part of England’s basketball squad at the European junior qualifying tournament and later moved to America to play basketball at Blair Academy in New Jersey.
He joined the Bulls in 2004 and four years later signed a six year contract worth £48.7m, with a further £6.2m of incentive payments.
He set up the Luol Deng Foundation, which aims to ensure that Africa’s poorest people have access to shelter, water and healthcare.
At the time he said: “My athletic abilities have opened many doors of opportunity to me and I am fortunate to be in a position to help others.
Luol has hosted annual one-week basketball camps at Loughborough for young players aged 11-19 from across the country.
He has said: “The camp gives kids the opportunity to develop their basketball skills and learn something new about the game whilst having fun. But we also teach them about discipline and the importance of doing well at school.
“This is by far the best and most organised camp we’ve run. The people are friendly and the food is great.
“Loughborough is in a great position geographically to attract kids from all over the country and because the facilities here are so great it complements everything we do. The training facilities are just as good as anything I’ve seen in the US. ”
Luol is a crowd favourite in Chicago and has been described as the ‘glue’ of the team by his coach, but his insistence on playing for Great Britain at the Olympics has led to rumours that he may be traded by the Bulls general manager Gar Foreman.
Luol has said: “As much as I want to stay on the team - I love Chicago, I love the Bulls - at the same time I know the business part of it. Sooner or later, all the rumours are going to come up. At the end of the day there are no hard feelings and I'm not a 21 year old kid who will get upset by it. I understand the game.
"I don’t think they are paying me back for the Olympics. As a GM that's his job to try and get the team healthy and ready for next year. I understand both sides of it. I just try to let people know I'm going to be okay."
Last August Great Britain recorded their first win of the Olympic test event at the fifth attempt, beating China 64-56 at the Olympic Park in London.
Luol made his debut appearance in the tournament and said: "I've been committed to this programme (GB Basketball) since day one. My kids really wanted me at the camp and I really care about making basketball better in this country. I enjoyed my time with them. My team-mates understand, my coaches understand."
This is only the second time that Team GB will be represented in basketball at the Olympics, and the first time since the Games were last hosted by London in 1948.
Head coach Chris Finch said: “Cutting down to a final 12 is always difficult. We had a really productive camp in Houston and to finally announce the Olympic team here in Loughborough is fantastic. The next four weeks provide us with outstanding competition leading up to the Olympics, which is just what is required before doing battle within our group come Games time.”