Asbury Athlete Receives Graduate Assistantship at NCAA Division I School – Asbury University
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Asbury Athlete Receives Graduate Assistantship at NCAA Division I School

September 19, 2023

Leander Ridgeway, Jr. ’21 recently received a Graduate Assistantship with the Men’s Basketball team at Brigham Young University (BYU). The Lexington native began his two-year position with the NCAA Division I team in August:

“I’m thankful for this opportunity to work with the BYU Cougars,” Ridgeway said. “I get to work with players and coaches both on and off the court, getting hands-on experience in player development, aiding with logistics and operations, and filming games. Last month, I joined the team on a trip to Italy and Croatia, with games in Milan and Zadar.”

During his time at Asbury, Ridgeway played on the Men’s Basketball team under Head Coach Will Shouse ’02 and Associate Head Coach Russ Abner.

“Leander hit the ground running and led the team on and off the court,” Shouse said. “He was a coach’s dream and the perfect teammate. It makes me feel happy to know that someone I had the privilege of coaching is now impacting others.”

As a journalism major, Ridgeway served as sports editor and anchor for The Asbury Collegian campus newspaper and live broadcast, working under Assistant Professor of Journalism Rich Manieri.

“Manieri was instrumental in my time as an Asbury student,” Ridgeway said. “His door was always open, and he helped me become a better journalist in conducting interviews and writing concise articles.”

After graduating from Asbury, Ridgeway sent hundreds of applications and inquiries to sports clubs, teams, and agents with the goal of playing professional basketball. After waiting for months as a barista at Manchester Coffee Co., Ridgeway received an offer from Jaibos de Tampico, a professional basketball team in Mexico.

“On Saturday, I received a message about the opportunity,” Ridgeway smiled, recalling the short onboarding process. “On Sunday, I signed the contract. And on Monday morning, I flew out of Louisville to Mexico.”

Ridgeway played guard and forward positions with Jaibos de Tampico from August through December 2022. His highlights can be viewed here:

“That first week was incredible,” he said. “We played three away games in two different cities. I learned a lot from being in a new country and met a great group of guys.”

Ridgeway reflects on his spiritual formation at Asbury.

“Asbury is like home for me,” he said. “When I heard about the Outpouring in February, I came back with my friends and experienced God in a fresh way. It was amazing to see what the Lord did.”

As a student, Ridgeway grew in his faith and found a campus ministry called Every Nation Campus at the University of Kentucky through his friend Rebekah Antonelli ’21. Ridgeway was thankful to be a part of the Lexington church when it launched.  

This summer, Ridgeway helped Shouse and Abner with the Asbury University basketball camps.

“Leander came back and helped work our youth basketball camps and did a great job working with the kids and being a teacher of the game,” Abner said. “He is a believer and is very strong in his Christian faith. He has and will continue to represent Asbury the way I would hope any alumnus would!”

“I was thankful to work with both coaches to run drills and organize games for the players,” Ridgeway said. “I would love to work in coaching someday, and I’m excited to see what the Lord has for my future as I explore master’s program options at BYU.”

BYU won a total of 12 national championships in NCAA competition and two National Invitation Tournament basketball titles. The Big 12 Conference welcomed BYU on July 1, 2023, with 13 other institutions including UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia. Learn more:

Asbury University Athletics (#TeamAU) has 18 teams, ranging from basketball and soccer to tennis and track and field. Receiving the 2023 #KingChasing Institution Award of the Year from the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), #TeamAU remains committed to five Pillars of Excellence: mission, team, character, scholar, and effort. Learn more: