The annual NBA draft comes up on Wednesday, and there are many Africans and Nigerians in the pot.
It could be a record for Nigeria, as there are seven Nigerians listed [they have not played for another country] in the pot.
The NBA has always had an African affiliation, and many Nigerians passionately follow the game and league, in which many compatriots like Hakeem ‘the dream’ Olajuwon was a pacesetter and the current regular season MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo [Adetokunbo] is of Nigerian parentage.
The Nigerians are: Precious Achiuwa, Udoka Azubuike, Isaac Okoro, Onyeka Okongwu, Zeke Nnaji, Daniel Oturu, and Jordan Nwora.
Achiuwa, 21, was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and moved to the United States of America as a secondary school student and he could be drafted in the top-19.
If Achiuwa makes it, he will become the highest-drafted Nigerian player since Michael ‘Candyman’ Olowokandi, who was selected first pick in the 1998 NBA Draft.
If he is selected in the first round, he will become the third Nigerian player to be drafted in the first round since 2000, joining Josh Okogie – the 20th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and Festus Ezeli, who was the 30th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Achiuwa, in a 2020 NBA Draft Media Day interview, revealed the teams he has been in contact with and how he thinks he will fit in at the Kings. “I have been in contact with the [Sacramento] Kings. Potentially, I like to play fast and Aaron Fox, obviously is one of the fastest guys in the NBA, and, given I like to play fast – it will be a good fit,” he added.
They also asked him about the teams he has worked out with, to which he answered, “I have worked out with the [Washington] Wizards, [Boston] Celtics, and Miami [Heat].”
Achiuwa , who declared for the NBA draft after his freshman year at the University of Miami, wants to keep up the Nigerian tradition in the NBA. “Just being able to be in a position like this, these players that have been before me, and they’ve done it at a really high level, and just me being in this type of situation where I may be able to keep the same tradition going.
“But not just me, a bunch of us in the draft class like you said, and I think we have an opportunity to keep that legacy going, especially that Nigerian representation in the NBA. And also, having my brother that came before me. Just being a guide to me every step of the way so far.
He also revealed the part his brother, Godsgift, has played in his evolution and where he can be considered for the draft. “Back home he’s done a great job, for the kids back home, making sure they have a way to learn the game. He is advancing the game back home. He’s providing resources for the kids, and I think that’s really big. Having somebody this passionate about basketball back home is really, really important.”
A lot of folks will be rooting for him from Port Harcourt when the time comes on Wednesday.
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