The Valparaiso University men’s basketball program has announced the addition of Ibra Bayu (Flevoland, The Netherlands / Perkiomen), who joins the 2022-23 roster as a true freshman.
The 6-foot-8 forward is a native of The Netherlands and attended high school in the United States at Perkoimen School in Pennsburg, Pa.
“Ibra is a highly athletic, high-upside player who we think can come in and have an immediate impact by his sheer motor and ability to affect the game athletically,” Valpo head coach Matt Lottich said. “We’re excited about the steps that he’s taken in developing a perimeter game. I think he’s someone we can really develop into a special player.”
Bayu’s story to get to this point is one of perseverance, as he overcame several obstacles during his high school career. During his first season in the United States as a sophomore, his team’s season was cut short by COVID-19. During his junior year, he was sidelined by a significant health issue. As a senior, he fractured one ankle in September and returned to the court for a few games in late January before fracturing his other ankle.
“It will mean everything to me to be on the court at Valpo,” Bayu said. “I haven’t played in so long, and playing is everything to me. This is a dream come true. I had thoughts of quitting during my senior year, but my coaches and family kept me positive and said I would get through it. It’s been a long high school journey, so I feel blessed and I’m very excited to play at the Division-I level.”
The opportunity to take the court at Valpo makes persevering through all of the challenges presented over the last few seasons well worth it. He’s enthusiastic to join a program and institution that fits exactly what he was seeking.
“I talked to the coaches and told them that I wanted a place where it feels like family,” Bayu said. “They said it’s like a big family there. That was one of the main reasons I chose Valpo. Coach Lottich is very similar to my high school coach. He seems extremely smart and calm. I can’t wait to play for him.”
In addition, he’ll be reunited with his close friend and fellow Netherlands native Jerome Palm, another Valpo basketball newcomer for the 2022-23 campaign.
“Another reason I chose Valpo is that Jerome is a good friend of mine,” Bayu said. “I feel really good about Valpo because it’s a big family and I’m going in with someone I know. Jerome and I have the same trainer; he’s like a big brother to me. Whenever something is wrong, I can ask him for advice. He’s always there for me.”
Bayu’s tremendous potential has Valpo’s coaching staff excited about the final addition to the 2022-23 roster.
“I am a high-energy guy who is very athletic,” Bayu said. “I love to play defense, block shots and run the floor. I’m loud and I love to talk. Off the court, I’m a very social person. I love to talk, make jokes and laugh.”
Bayu played soccer during his youth, but was advised during a gym class in school that he should try basketball at age 10. That’s where the journey began.
“I’ve always been tall,” he said. “They said I had talent and potential. From there, I kept playing basketball. My freshman year back home in The Netherlands, I watched a couple of college March Madness games and I dreamed of playing in March Madness. Playing at Valpo and having the opportunity to achieve that goal is a dream come true.”