Abilene Christian University’s newest men’s basketball Hall of Fame member was both unheralded and unrecruited — probably with good reason.
Peter Kiganya was only exposed to basketball for the first time as a high school junior in Kenya. When he moved to the United States, he was a gangly 6-foot-6, 185-pound immigrant who followed a friend trying to land a role in the 1994 movie The Air Up There.
He had exposure to ACU through former Wildcats’ coach Tony Mauldin, who was doing missionary work in Kenya. Mauldin tried to help several Kenyans get to the U.S. and encouraged Kiganya to attend ACU. First was a year at Frank Phillips College. When Kiganya made it to Abilene, he was told by the coaches to take a redshirt year. Kiganya was unwilling.
Now 43 and a recreation programmer in Fort Worth, Kiganya was one of seven athletes selected last month to the Wildcat Sports Hall of Fame. From a player who came to ACU as a “defensive specialist,” Kiganya scored as many as 41 points in a game and in 2013 was chosen by fans as one of the top five players during the Lone Star Conference years.
“Those were great years for me,” Kiganya said of 1998-2001 when he earned one first-team South Region and two first-team Lone Star Conference honors. “When I came to ACU they had some great teams and players like (previous Hall of Fame honoree and coach) Jared Mosley. With all the great players that came through, it was a big surprise (to be selected).”
Kiganya earned it. He was determined to not take a redshirt season and not only made the team but started several games. His career took off during his junior and senior seasons before he embarked on a professional career overseas and was a longtime member of the Kenya national team.
In fact, he was already a member of the Kenya national team when he came to ACU. However, he didn’t see much action since tournaments were generally in December just as the Wildcats were embarking on their LSC schedule. Kiganya was a national team member off and on from 1992 through 2010. He was an assistant coach for the team in 2012.
He returned to college first as a graduate assistant for one season at Texas-Dallas and then for two seasons at Angelo State, where he earned his master’s degree. Last year he was selected to represent Kenya in an international coaching enrichment certificate program with 35 other individuals from throughout the world. One day he would like to open a basketball academy in Kenya.
Now he would like to coach stateside. When he couldn’t find a position for this season, he took work in Fort Worth while his wife and three children remained in San Angelo. He would like to coach in the U.S. at the high school level where he can help shape youth and inspire them with his amazing journey.
“I came to ACU as a defensive specialist,” Kiganya said. “You need good people in your corner (to help you improve). I watched Jared Mosley and learned from other players and our coaches. I had the God-given ability to handle a heavy workload.
“(Making the Hall of Fame) is not just about basketball. It is what you were able to achieve, the sacrifices you made for your family and succeeding in a new country. It was very satisfying watching that part of my career end like that, especially as a foreign player. It is a very humbling experience.”