Hometown dream for former panther Ahelegbe

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Hometown dream for former panther Ahelegbe

COURTESY PHOTO/UNI Athletics

COURTESY PHOTO/UNI Athletics

COURTESY PHOTO/UNI Athletics

JACOB POTTER, Sports Editor

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Having grown up in Oakdale, Minn., just outside of St. Paul, former starting point guard for the 2010 Sweet 16 team Kwadzo Ahelegbe realized a dream come true in 2016 when he became a video coordinator for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“It’s amazing,” Ahelegbe said.  “Obviously growing up seeing the culture, seeing the history, and now I’m a part of that history and culture.”

Entering his fourth season with his hometown Timberwolves, Ahelegbe is working his way up, as he was promoted to assistant video coordinator/player development for the team.

“It’s on that path of grinding it out,” Ahelegbe said.  “My furthest accomplishment is to be a head coach, so it’s a part of that grind up.”

Ahelegbe’s journey to become a part of his hometown team started at Tartan High School in Oakdale and would take him to UNI to eventually accomplish a historic upset.

Ahelegbe was an integral part of the 2010 Sweet 16 team, which was inducted into the UNI Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, Sept. 21.

“It’s always great to be recognized for the accomplishments that your teammates and you have done for years and years going forward,” Ahelegbe said.

After graduating in 2010, Ahelegbe played overseas in Austria, the Netherlands and Germany before joining the Timberwolves staff in 2016.

Along the way, the former Panther has passed by players from the Kansas team that UNI took down, including current NBA veterans Marcus and Markieff Morris.

“I’ve seen quite a few of those guys in [NBA] Summer League and stuff like that,” Ahelegbe said.  “We spoke about it [the upset] once, but it’s a distant memory for them.      It’s more like a ‘who cares, one single game’ type of deal, but it’s all fun and games.”

After growing up watching the Timberwolves’ prime era with 2004 NBA MVP Kevin Garnett, Ahelegbe got the opportunity to meet the 2008 NBA champion.

“My mentor Chris Carr played for the Timberwolves, so I’ve met KG [Kevin Garnett] several times, which was cool,” Ahelegbe said.

Ahelegbe has also worked alongside several other all-world talents from the current face of the franchise in two-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns to former MVP Derrick Rose.

“That’s my guy,” Ahelegbe said about Rose.  “He’s an amazing person first and foremost, and he’s a hard worker.  It’s always refreshing to see guys like that who have obtained and accomplished everything and still work the hardest in the NBA and even in the world.”

Life has come full circle for Ahelegbe, from growing up watching the Timberwolves to now being a part of the franchise’s future.

“Changing the culture, changing the narrative of Minnesota basketball from top to bottom,” Ahelegbe said.  “It’s been cool.”

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