Nigeria seem to be shining the light on the African continent at the moment as a historic number of young basket-ballers of Nigerian origin were drafted to make the NBA class of 2020.
Of the seven players, two born in Nigeria, will be considered for pickup by some of the best basketball teams in the world ESPN reports. Precious Achiuwa and Udoka Azubuike are the players who were born in Nigeria and if selected in the top 30, would be the first time that two players from Nigeria are selected in the first round of the same NBA Draft.
Other players selected are: Onyeka Okongwu, Isaac Okoro, Zeke Nnaji, Daniel Oturu, and Jordan Nwora .
Below is a list of the seven players on the 2020 NBA draft:
Precious Achiuwa born September 19, 1999 is a Nigerian professional basketball player for the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Memphis Tigers. He finished his high school career at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida and was a consensus five-star recruit.
Udoka Timothy Azubuike born 17 September 1999 is a Nigerian basketball player for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Kansas Jayhawks.
Onyeka Okongwu born December 11, 2000 is an American basketball player for the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the USC Trojans.
Isaac Okoro born January 26, 2001 is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Auburn Tigers.
Ezekiel Tobechukwu “Zeke Nnaji” born January 9, 2001 is an American basketball player for the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association (NBA), drafted 22nd overall in the 2020 NBA draft. He played college basketball for the Arizona Wildcats.
Akinfayoshe Daniel Oturu born September 20, 1999 is an American basketball player for the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Jordan Nwora born September 9, 1998 is a Nigerian-American basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Louisville Cardinals.
With reference to basketball, Nigerians both home and abroad have come a long way. Akeem Olajuwon, in 1984, was the only Nigerian in the NBA draft.
It took another 10 years before the NBA drafted another player of Nigerian descent, in the person of Yinka Dare from George Washington, and then another four years before Michael Olowokandi was drafted as number one overall by the LA Clippers.
Speaking with ESPN via Zoom, Achiuwa said, “I think it’s big. It just shows there’s a big talent culture in Nigeria when it comes to basketball, athleticism and athletes as a whole in general.”
So far, there are more than 30 current and former NBA players with Nigerian roots, including the likes of Andre Iguodala, Victor Oladipo, Bam Adebayo, and the Antetokounmpo brothers.
Former Nigeria captain, Olumide Oyedeji , who was drafted out of German team, DJK Wurzburg (Dirk Nowitzki played there too), and ran basketball camps in Nigeria for two decades before the Covid-19 interruption, has had over 35 000 kids pass through the camp. One of such kids is Azubuike whose name is part of the 2020 NBA Draft.
Oyedeji, who played three seasons in the NBA, projects that the number will rise in the future and also expects the players to continue to light the way for others.
“We are a country of about 200 million people and with the way Nigerians are migrating to the USA, don’t be surprised to see 20 in the next Draft Classes in the future,” Oyedeji told ESPN.