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Arizona basketball: Kyle Fogg talks UA career, Pencils of Promise, and appreciation for Wildcat fans

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Kyle Fogg has been on an amazing journey from un-recruited prospect to becoming one of the best basketball players in the world.

Arizona v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Kyle Fogg completed his senior season at Brea Olinda High School in 2008 without a D1 offer.

2008 was also a particularly trying year for Arizona Wildcats basketball recruiting.

Brandon Jennings went to Europe, highly-regarded forward Emmanuel Negedu asked to be released from his LOI, and questions surrounding Lute Olson’s absence in 2007 were largely unanswered.

Olson and assistant coach Mike Dunlap were still working hard through the summer to find talent.

Eventually, they stumbled upon Fogg.

"All of the schools that I had been talking to like Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, and San Diego State didn’t think I was D1 material," Fogg said. "After my high school season, I didn’t have a Division-1 scholarship so I started playing travel basketball with Belmont Shore."

"The last tournament I played in, U of A saw me."

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

"It was definitely a blessing for me to get a chance to play for U of A."

Fogg would prove to not only provide stability, but his desire to put the program and his teammates first would set the precedence for the future of the "Players Program" and what Arizona Basketball would be after Coach Olson closed his final chapter at the UA.

"Coach Olson and Mike Dunlap were the two coaches that brought me in to Arizona and I’ll never forget that," Fogg explained. "They gave me the chance to play high level Division-1 basketball when no one else did."

Make no mistake: the Wildcats needed Kyle Fogg just as much as he needed them. Fogg embodied the spirit of a Hall of Fame coach and brought a work ethic and attitude to a program searching for an identity.

"Being one of Coach O’s last recruits at Arizona, I really wanted to represent him in a positive way at Arizona by being the best player that I could be and being a good person like he was with every person he came in contact with," Fogg said. "It was a no-brainer to sign their offer as quickly as I could — just their history, their basketball legacy and getting a chance to play for Coach O."

Unfortunately, Fogg wouldn’t get a chance to play for Olson.

"I had played for Coach Dunlap during the summer and Coach Olson tried to come back for the first few practices before Coach [Russ] Pennell and Coach [Reggie] Geary took over."

In the span of a few months, Fogg finished his high school career with few accolades, made a once-in-a-lifetime connection with a legendary coach, then saw that coach’s tenure abruptly end. Fogg then cycled through three different coaches before his first college game.

"It was crazy," Fogg recounts. "Coach Pennell did a great job of keeping us together as a team and teaching us to care about one another. I think we did a good job of bouncing back from something so tough. I wouldn’t change anything. It made me the player I am today and who I’m going to be in the future."

Despite all of the initial turmoil, Fogg would go on to win 90 games at Arizona over his four-year career, and earn a 2010 All-Pac-12 First Team selection in his senior season. He went toe-to-toe with Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, DeMar DeRozan and more than held his own.

"You play for a school like Arizona in the Pac-12 you definitely see the toughest competition around and we were definitely battle tested," Fogg continued. "All of those games stack up on top of each other and give you more knowledge about the game."

Fogg is now in Spain preparing for the upcoming season with his new team, Unicaja Málaga of the Liga ACB and Euroleague.

"I’m definitely happy getting the chance to play overseas, to travel and see the world, and play basketball in top leagues professionally," he said.

A great performance in Spain’s top league combined with his MVP award from the 2016 The Basketball Tournament will surely put him in a great position to reach the ultimate dream — the NBA.

"Getting to the NBA is always the goal every year; just to become the best player I can be," Fogg said. "I’m definitely in a great situation right now but of course I’m always going to keep on working hard in hopes of getting to the league."

Kyle is happily paying his dues while awaiting another shot at the NBA. He’s just leveling up his rank while living his dream.

Just last year he completed a major milestone: he bought his mom a house.

"That was goal number one forever," he explained. "Honestly, it was a crazy time because we had some problems with our landlord trying to raise our rent so we didn’t know what we were going to do. We prayed on it and at the perfect time, God answered our prayers and we won the TBT. It was something I always wanted to do since I was a kid. She gave me an amazing childhood."

Homes aren’t the only thing Kyle is building. He’s building schools for underprivileged children through Pencils of Promise.

"I’ve always wanted to help people and try my best to give back," he continued. "It all started when I was playing professionally in Belgium when I read a book called "Pencils for Promise" by Adam Braun. It’s definitely one of those books that changes your perspective on life. He showed me that you don’t need to be incredibly wealthy to make a difference. "

Fogg has nearly completed fundraising to build his first school.

"We want to educate kids in third-world countries that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford education," Fogg said about his charity. "That’s something I think we take for granted, at least I did by chilling out through school and not pay attention when there are kids all over the world who would do anything for that opportunity. Along with the Pencils of Promise organization, we’re trying to build a school in Ghana to help kids get an education and try to live their dreams like I’m able to live mine."

Kyle has received an outpouring of support from the UA community for his charity work. Recently, Arizona head coach Sean Miller and former teammate Nick Johnson have contributed to the Pencils of Promise campaign.

"Coach Miller does for so much for me, and the support I receive from all of the staff and everyone is unbelievable," Fogg said. "Coach Miller supports me even in my other endeavors that aren’t basketball. He helps me and supports me in that."

The UA supports its athletes with world-class facilities while they are on campus and even after they leave the university.

"It’s really a family atmosphere," Fogg declared. "And when they say ‘Past, Present, Future, they really mean that and welcome me and other athletes back forever."

"Every year I come back and I train," he continued on about his relationship with the school. "I wouldn’t be as good as I am without them allowing me to come back every year and use the facilities. They always hook me up with the new gear. Coach Miller perfectly carried on the tradition of Coach Olson and it’s unlike any other school in the country."

Fogg has come incredibly far. He’s overcome so much, and proved so many wrong and despite ample opportunities to call out those who doubted him, he’s not that type. He’s too focused on what’s next.

"I’m definitely going to keep pushing for all Wildcat fans and represent U of A right."