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Helping lead San Diego State to the biggest stage in college basketball, forward Aguek Arop and the Aztecs are just one win away from being crowned National Champions. With an impressive run in the the NCAA tournament that has already included wins over Creighton, Florida Atlantic, and top-seeded Alabama, the Aztecs have captivated the nation with their impressive teamwork, leadership, and poise.

Aguek Arop posing with mom
Aguek with his mom after getting U.S. citizenship.
At the center of their success is Arop, who since joining the Aztecs has overcome trials throughout his career and remains an inspiration for teammates, coaches, and fans throughout the country. When asked about his journey, Arop points to his faith and says that God is the reason that he is here today.

Aguek Arop was born in South Sudan, where he lived before he and his family came to the United States as political refugees. After attending high school in Omaha, Nebraska, Arop committed to San Diego State and has become a staple of the Aztec team ever since. Throughout his career, Arop has battled injuries along the journey. Although they have deteriorated him physically, Arop’s spirit and energy have always remained positive.

Arop says that is because of his faith and gives glory to God for everything in his life. Arop wants to be known as far more than just a basketball player and looks to show love to everyone that he interacts with.

“The biggest impact I hope to have is that those I encounter may see a glimpse of Christ within me. Whether that’s a smile to a stranger, a word of encouragement for a friend, or just being considerate of others. All the good in me comes from Christ.”

Aguek poses for graduation
Aguek after his graduation.
Arop graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies in the spring of 2022 with an emphasis in recreational tourism management, public administration & criminal justice. Arop is now pursuing a Master’s in Homeland Security and has become a standout student alongside a number of his Aztec teammates. Two months after he graduated, he also finally got US citizenship.

Although the journey has not been an easy one, Arop says it was all part of God’s plan. Now with one more game left in an Aztec uniform, Arop says he is so grateful for his time around basketball and the opportunity it gives him to glorify God.

“Faith plays a role in my basketball career because it gives me the opportunity to share Christ with others. It’s also beneficial for my prayer life because it helps build that discipline of showing up every day. Especially on days I don’t want to.”

Arop and the Aztecs will match up with the UConn Huskies tonight, with the chance of bringing home a National Championship. Regardless of the outcome, Arop continues to inspire countless lives with his persistence, dedication, love, and faith. As Arop prepares to take the court for one final time with the teammates that have become family, he looks to use his platform to always show God’s love.


Ethan Kruse

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