High School Basketball Star Is Probably a 30-Year-Old Man

Sudanese immigrant always seemed much bigger than other boys on his team
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2016 2:22 PM CDT

No one disputed Jonathon Nicola was a big kid: The 11th-grader at Catholic Central High School in Windsor, Canada, stood 6 feet 9 inches, weighed 202 pounds, and wore a size 16 shoe, the Windsor Star reports. And no one initially disputed the Sudanese immigrant's age of 17—until apparently this week, when the basketball star was found to probably be a 30-year-old man and arrested for allegedly violating the country's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Nicola, who had his first detention review Tuesday in front of the country's immigration board and will have another next week, was believed to have arrived in Canada from Sudan in November, on the day he then said was three days before his 17th birthday; he claimed to be searching for a better life.

"I don't know how many of [my friends] have a clue of how it is in Africa," he had told the Star back in January. But during his five-month stint on the school's basketball team, his size raised eyebrows. "I did think he looked older than a high-schooler," another student who played against Nicola in a December tournament tells the New York Daily News. "Basketball skill-wise he was all right, but his height is what made him better than everyone." Nicola's coach, whom he lives with, said in the January Star article that "I think this kid will have a chance at the NBA. I have never said that about any kid from Windsor." The school is remaining tight-lipped about Nicola specifically, with a spokesman telling the Star that there's "really not a whole lot to say" while the probe is ongoing and insisting there's a "system of checks and balances" the school relies on for incoming international students to make sure all paperwork is on the up-and-up. (The last time something like this happened, the imposter was Ukrainian.)

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