COLUMBUS, Ohio (ABC4 Sports) – They are two Aggies from the other side of the world. Neemias Queta and Diogo Brito both hail from Portugal, but have found a new home in Logan.
Now, they find themselves in the middle of the Big Dance.
“We make our nation proud, and we know that,“ said Brito. “We do it not only for us, but for the whole country of Portugal, where the game of basketball is just now getting its first international steps.“
There are just three Portuguese players in all of college basketball, and they’re all in Columbus this week for the Big Dance. The other Portuguese player, Franciso Amiel, plays for Colgate.
“It’s really nice being one of the three Portuguese players playing in the NCAA,“ Queta said. “It’s really nice having another play on my team and all three of us in the same place. We’re all going to see each other and have fun.“
I will say on the record, Portugal is like my favorite country to recruit,“ head coach Craig Smith said with a smile. “We’ve got 66 percent of the Division I men’s basketball players.“
Smith basically has the market cornered.
“I’m expecting to walk in there and just get the next Division I player,“ he joked.
Brito is the older of the two Portuguese Aggies, now in his junior season at Utah State. He did not know Queta until the 6-11 big man arrived in Logan.
“I decided to text him, and we talked for a little bit,“ Brito said. “I let him know a little bit more about Utah State and what the school is like, and what the city is like.“
“When I came here, I really didn’t know about anything,“ Queta said. “So, he was the one that probably helped me the most.“
Neemi, as he’s affectionately called, has developed into one of the best big men in the country. He says he’s not thinking about the possibility of entering the NBA Draft just yet, but he’s not shy about anything he does on the court.
“He’s someone who knows where every camera is,“ said senior forward Quin Taylor. “He’s always high-fiving fans, telling the fans to get up and be loud.“
So who has more fun at the games, Queta or his high-octane head coach?
“I like to think I have a good time,“ Smith said.. “But I think Neemi might take the cake. I tell you, he’s a special guy.“
They all hope the Aggies stay at the “Danca Grande“ is a long one.