Eight of Africa's most talented sons are headed to the courts of the NBA. The league made its selection of draftees with 60 newly selected players from U.S. colleges and international basketball leagues. It is a new record to have 8 players of direct African descent in one draft class!
Meet the African Picks for the 2019 NBA Draft:
Chuma Okeke is a forward player drafted from the Orlando Magic. The 20-year-old rising star is a first-generation Nigerian American and has had a promising career playing for Auburn University. He made it within the first round of selection as the 16th pick. Dubbed “The War Eagle”, his last two seasons were impressive with the Auburn proving instrumental in winning a championship in 2018. Watch out for more from this exceptional basketball player.
Chikezie Okpala, also known as Kz or Kezie, is a 20-year-old Stanford sophomore forward player. He was drafted to the Phoenix Suns as the 32nd pick in the second round. KZ has spent exciting years working hard in pursuit of his career at Stanford University and now set to live his dream of being an NBA player. Chikezie is another first-generation Nigerian- American born to Martin and Mary Okpala.
Rui Hachimura is definitely the history maker in the NBA list. Being the first Japanese-born basketball player to make it to the NBA draft for quite a while. He came in as a first-round 9th pick and was drafted to the Washington Wizards. Despite being a rookie from Gonzaga University, Rui has made his mark. He follows the path of the likes of Yuta Tabuse and Watanabe, the only other two Japanese-born regular-season players to make it to the NBA. He was born on the 8th of February, 1998 in Toyama, Japan and is of Beninese ancestry.
Sekou Doumbouya made the NBA draft in round one as the 15th pick. The 19-year-old two-way forward player is a French basketball player drafted by the Detroit Pistons with roots in the Limoges CSP, LNB Pro A league. This fast-footed player is the youngest player to make it to an appearance in the NBA this decade.
Mfiondu Kabengele was 27th pick in the first round. The rookie center was drafted to the Brooklyn Nets and then draft traded to the LA Clippers. Kabengele is from the Democratic Republic of Congo who went to Florida State University but spent most of his life in Canada. He shares close ties with the NBA Hall of Fame inductee, Dikembe Mutumbo.
Bruno Fernando was the NBA draft’s 34th pick in the second round. He is a rookie center player from the University of Maryland, College Park, and drafted from the Philadelphia 76ers. He is a big man and utility player with an impressive pedigree, strong enough to do Africa proud in the NBA. Fernando turned 20 on the 15th of August, 2018 and weighs approximately 237lbs.
BoI BoI seems to be walking in the footsteps of his Sudanese dad, Manute BoI who also was an American basketball player. BoI BoI was the 44th pick during the second round of the NBA draft. He was drafted to the Miami Heat but traded to the Denver Nuggets. BoI BoI will be an impressive addition to the NBA with his skillful play and exceptional scoring abilities he illustrated so clearly in the college career.
Twenty-one-year old history maker, Olumiye Oni turns out to be the first Ivy League basketball player to get an NBA draft since 1995. Miye Oni was drafted in the second round as the 58th pick. He is a two-way shooting guard from Yale University and was drafted to the Golden State Warriors. Oni, however, was draft traded to the Utah Jazz.
This coming season of the NBA should be exciting and competitive, and with the addition of these young African players, audiences on the continent have a vested reason to tune in.