Junior Etou is a 6-foot-7 forward that plays at Bishop O’Connell in Arlington, VA, after transferring into the program from Arlington Country Day school in Jacksonville, FL. He’s ranked as the 142nd overall player, according to Rivals, and has offers from the likes of Kansas, Maryland, Miami and West Virginia.
The addition of Etou has helped O’Connell — a school that counts, among others, Kendall Marshall as an alum — erase the memories of a 14-18 season a year ago and regain status as one of the nation’s elite programs.
That’s all great, until you consider a fact that Dave McKenna, a sports columnist for the City Paper in DC writing for Deadspin, brought up on Tuesday afternoon: Etou, a native of the Congo, is 20 years old:
Junior Etou’s full name is Luc Tselan Tsiene Etou. He is originally from the Republic of Congo. Turns out that in 2009, Luc Tselan Tsiene Etou played for the Congo Republic national team in the FIBA Africa Championship in Tripoli and Benghazi. The roster for that tournament lists Etou’s hometown as Pointe Noire, the second-largest city in the Republic, and his birth date as “4 June 1992.” That would make him 20 years old, not 18.
He’s also on the roster for the Congo Republic team that participated in the Africa U18 Championship in May 2010, which shows Etou’s birthday as “04/06/1992.”
And in August 2010, Etou is listed among the participants in a Basketball Without Borders camp in Dakar, where the entry under his name shows “Date of Birth: 4/6/1992.”
All those events were overseen by FIBA, basketball’s international governing body. Via email from the Geneva-based group’s headquarters, a FIBA spokesman says that “according to our database,” the June 4, 1992, birthday for Etou is accurate. For every FIBA-sanctioned event, the spokesman says, the national federation of each participating country must provide FIBA “with all necessary eligibility information such as copy of passport(s), birth registry, etc.”
That’s a problem.
You can’t be 20 years old and play high school basketball.
Making the story all the more suspect is that in January of 2011, Etou’s Wikipedia page was changed to say that he was born in 1994 instead of 1992. The location of the IP address that made those edits? Jacksonville, the same city that is home to Etou’s old high school, Arlington Country Day.
Deadspin is on fire when it comes to outing athletes that lie.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.