It just took some phone calls and emails to get this job done. As rivalshoops.com/sportingsnews.com first reported a week ago, one of the country's top players in the class of 2003 was having a difficult time getting back into the United States.
Then New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli stepped in after being asked by the administrators of Blair Academy to help one of their student/athletes, Luol Deng.
Deng, the versatile and multitalented 6-8 forward/guard from Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J., did not play last Saturday night in the Buccaneers' 67-59 victory over St. Benedict's. The reason? Well, Deng was stuck in London, England -- his adopted home -- due to visa problems.
A Sudanese native, Deng played for English Junior National team while home on winter break. He left Blair for England back on Dec. 19, but he did not go to get his visa renewed until Dec. 31.
Blair Head Coach Joe Mantegna said that Deng could not renew his visa right away because of his participation with the English Junior National squad at a tournament in Poland.
Mantegna said that there is typically a 21 day waiting period with visa renewals, and he said that he has been in touch with both U.S. and British officials to try and speed up the process.
So Blair called on New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli. His office went to work. They made the right phone calls and sent the proper emails. Sources tell us this afternoon that Deng was instructed to go to the Consul General's office at the United State Embassy in England today. He was then given a waiver.
Sources now tell us that Deng is expected to be back in the United States sometime late tonight. Chalk one up for political power in this visa battle.
Senators and congressmen receive these type of problems on their desk quite a bit, rivalshoops.com was told. Deng was just caught in the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy.
But thanks to the democratic senator from New Jersey, Deng can get back to the classroom and continue to progress on the court. The trip to England also affected Deng's future recruiting process. Had Deng not returned to England for the winter break, he was slated to make unofficial visits to Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest, his coach Joe Mantegna said.