Kansas center Udoka Azubuike’s mother will get to see her son play college basketball for the first time in Saturday’s Final Four semifinal against Villanova.
Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder (R) tweeted Thursday that the visa had been approved for Udoka’s mother Florence Azuonuwu. Yoder’s office worked to get the non-immigrant travel visa secured on an expedited basis after Kansas beat Duke in the Elite Eight to advance to the Final Four. Apparently members of Congress can get things done when they want to.
Breaking news: we’ve been informed that Udoka’s mother’s visa has been approved!
— Rep. Kevin Yoder (@RepKevinYoder) March 29, 2018
Azubuike, a sophomore, came to Kansas from a high school in Florida. Not only has his mother never seen him play college basketball, she’s never seen him play basketball in an organized game at all and it’ll be the first time they’ve seen each other in six years.
“She’s never seen me play at all — like she’s never seen me play basketball. So … I don’t know,” Udoka Azubuike said with a smile. “It’s going to be emotional for me. I don’t know how I’m going to handle it.”
Azubuike said the plans are for his mother to fly to France from Nigeria and then from France to the United States. Assuming there are no travel issues, she’s set to arrive in San Antonio on Friday night.
The youngest of five children, Azubuike came to the United States as a teenager and played high school basketball in Jacksonville, Florida. His father died when he was in grade school.
He said two of his sisters and one of his two brothers are still in Nigeria, where his mother is a teacher. He talks to her on the phone every three weeks or so because he said the internet connection in his home country isn’t the most reliable. When he left Nigeria to come to the United States, he said his mother gave him a Bible to bring with him.
Thanks to an NCAA rule that started in 2015, Kansas is able to pay for Florence to travel to Saturday’s game. And, if Kansas wins, Monday’s title game as well.
“So the NCAA, for all the stuff that they catch, they passed a rule a few years ago that allowed families to get to events,” Kansas coach Bill Self said Thursday. “And his wasn’t easy to get here because we had to go through political people to deal with their embassy in Nigeria, for the passport, but also to set up a meeting to get a visa, and she had to fly I don’t know how many hours just to get to the city where she had the visa meeting this morning at 9 a.m. to get the visa.”
“Then try to get her on flights, which will take over 24 hours, to get her here. So it will be worth it. And certainly — can you imagine, you’ve never seen your son play basketball and the first time you do it is in front of 70,000 people at this thing? I can’t even imagine what’s going to be going through her mind.”
Azubuike missed much of the 2016-17 season as a freshman because of a broken wrist. He emerged as Kansas’ best interior defender and low-post threat this season, averaging 13 points and seven rebounds a game. He returned for the NCAA tournament after missing the entirety of the Big 12 tournament because of a knee injury.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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