The annual NBA draft came out last night, Wednesday, November 19, and quite a number of Nigerians made the draft with a record number of 7, or rather 8 if Desmond Bane is included. This is a huge deal for Nigeria as seven players of Nigerian origin and descend are all set to join Giannis Antetokounmpo in the NBA next season.
Of the seven players on that made the draft of Nigerian origin, two were actually born in Nigeria, in the person of Precious Achiuwa and Udoka Azubuike.
READ ALSO: History Made! 7 Nigerians Set To Be Drafted Into 2020 NBA Draft Class
Nigeria has always boasted of talents who played in professional in the NBA, from the very first pick Micheal Olowokandi from the (1998 NBA draft), to Hakeem Olajuwon, Yinka Dare, and the current MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo [Adetokunbo].
The prospects drafts for the 2020 NBA Draft Class are, Precious Achiuwa, Udoka Azubuike, Isaac Okoro, Onyeka Okongwu, Zeke Nnaji, Daniel Oturu, and Jordan Nwora.
According to Undefeated, if Precious Achiuwa and Udoka Azubuike, the only two Nigeria-born, are selected in the top 30, it would be the first time two players from Nigeria are selected in the first round of the same NBA Draft since 2000, which had two Nigerians, Josh Okogie and Festus Ezeli.
See new Nigerian NBA drafts and their new teams below;
Next is 21-year-old Precious Achiuwa (Round 1, Pick 20), who is described as “the most athletic player available in the 2020 draft”. He was born in Port Harcourt, then moved to the United States in middle school. His mum, Eunice, and dad, Donatus, are both Pentecostal ministers. He was drafted by Miami Heat.
21-year-old Udoka Azubuike, (Round 1, Pick 27) is described as “solid athlete for his size with improved mobility”. Born in Nigeria and first came to the U.S. in ninth grade. Didn’t get to see his mom, Florence, again until she attended 2018 Final Four. He was drafted by Utah Jazz.
Drafted 5th for the first round is Isaac Okoro, 19, who is described as “a powerful athlete on the wing who exceeded expectations”, “…he quickly carved out a role as a two-way difference-maker for Bruce Pearl’s Tigers as his combination of, strength, athleticism, aggressiveness, and budding offensive ability helped him contribute in a variety of ways”. His Dad, Godwin, emigrated from Nigeria to the United States in the 1980s. He was drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers.
Next person of Nigerian descent on the list is 20-year old Onyeka Okongwu (Round 1, Pick 6), described as “a gifted athlete whose improved frame, budding feel inside, and versatility end helped him emerged as one of the most intriguing centre prospects in college basketball.” He wears No. 21 to honour his older brother, Nnamdi, who died after a skateboarding accident in 2014. Nnamdi wore 21 in high school. His mum, Kate, is a registered nurse who moved to the United States from Nigeria in 1999. He was drafted by Atlanta Hawks.
There is Zeke Nnaji, 20, (Round 1, Pick 22) who is described as “an agile big man with a strong motor who emerged as one of the bigger breakout stars in the freshman class in his single season at Arizona”. His Dad, Apham, is from Nigeria and a former near-Olympic decathlete. He was drafted by Denver Nuggets.
Next is Daniel Oturu, 21, (Round 2, Pick 33), described as “a strong big man with good length”, drafted by Minnesota Timberwolves. He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y, and his parents emigrated from Nigeria to the U.S. in 1990. His dad, Francis played for Nigeria’s national table tennis team.
The last pick is, Jordan Nwora, (Round 2, Pick 45) described as “an aggressive offensive forward”, drafted by Milwaukee Bucks. He has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Nigeria. His Dad, Alex, is the head coach of the Nigerian National Team and at Erie Community College.
Desmond Bane – drafted into the Memphis Grizzles via Boston Celtics
Photo Credit: Getty