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Sun, May

Nigerians Dominates NBA Draft


The annual NBA draft has been released and for the first time players of Nigerian origin dominated the selection. The NBA draft is an annual event dating back to 1947 in which the teams from the National Basketball Association (NBA) can draft players who are eligible and wish to join the league.

The draft which was held in the early hours of Thursday saw a record of eight Nigerian players making the cut of which two players were born in Nigeria; Achiuwa and Azubuike.

Below is a list of Nigerians in the 2020 NBA draft picks.

1. Precious Achiuwa
Achiuwa was born September 19, 1999, in Port Harcourt, Nigeria and grew up playing soccer. He moved to the United States and in eighth grade focused on playing basketball.

On May 17, 2019, Achiuwa committed to play college basketball for Memphis Tigers under head coach Penny Hardaway. Achiuwa was selected with the 20th pick in the 2020 NBA draft by the Miami Heat.

The Heat was the runner-up in the 2019/2020 NBA finals losing to the Los-Angeles Lakers. Achiuwa is described as having an “elite physical profile and ideal defensive versatility.”

2. Udoka Timothy Azubuike
Udoka was born 17 September 1999 in Lagos, Nigeria. He was the youngest of five, with two older brothers and two older sisters. His father Fabian was a police officer, and his mother, Florence, was a middle school teacher.

Azubuike was selected with the 27th pick in the first round of the 2020 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz. Udoka Azubuike is an elite shot-blocker, defender and finisher with immense size and athletic ability.

3. Isaac Okoro
Okoro was born January 26, 2001, in Atlanta, Georgia to Nigerian parents (Godwin and Gloria) who migrated to the United State in the 1980s.

Okoro played for the United States at the 2018 FIBA Under-17 Basketball World Cup in Argentina. He was selected with the fifth pick by former Lebron James club, the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2020 NBA draft. Defensive toughness and versatility are Isaac Okoro’s NBA calling cards

4. Onyeka Okongwu
Onyeka Okongwu was born December 11, 2000, in Los Angeles, California. Okongwu is the son of Nigerian parents, Kate and Mike Okongwu. His mother, who is a registered nurse, moved to the United States from Nigeria in 1999. Okongwu was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks.

5. Ezekiel Tobechukwu “Zeke” Nnaji
Zeke was born January 9, 2001, in the United States of America. His father is a Nigerian (Alphan) while his mother (Janel) is from Minnesota. His younger sister, Maya, is a highly regarded high school basketball recruit at Hopkins High School.Nnaji was selected with the 22nd pick in the 2020 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets. Nnaji is a wiry strong, mobile big man who is skilled enough to stretch the floor and threaten with perimeter shooting with a little development

6. Akinfayoshe Daniel Oturu
Daniel was born on September 20, 1999, in Brooklyn, New York. Daniel parents hailed from Nigeria. His father (Francis) is from Fadeyi, a suburb of Lagos while his mother (Deborah) is from Ife.

Both of his parents are ministers at a branch of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

His favourite NBA player is Kobe Bryant, and he cites Joel Embiid as a role model. Oturu was selected in round 2 with 3rd pick and with the 33rd pick overall in the 2020 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

7. Jordan Nwora
Jordan Nwora, born September 9, 1998, in Buffalo, New York to a Nigerian father and American mother. His father, Alexander Nwora is a basketball coach. He is a Nigerian-American basketball player selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with 45th overall in NBA draft.

8. Desmond Michael Bane
Bane was born on June 25, 1998, in America. At age 13, Bane discovered that his father, Etieno Ekiko, lived in Nigeria. He was picked as overall 30 by Boston Celtics but was traded with Memphis Grizzlies. Bane is now an American basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Nigeria has been a priority of the NBA’s outreach and presence in Africa and this has dated back to the first Basketball Without Borders (BWB) on the continent in 2003, has produced elite athletes across the sports spectrum, from futbol to boxing to track and field.