Sports / Basketball
New wave of African stars prepare for debut NBA seasons
19 Jul 2019 at 09:06hrs | Views
"Joel Embiid" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Keith Allison
There has been a consistent flow of talent coming into the NBA from Africa for more than 30 years now and the continent doesn't look to be running out of quality basketball players anytime soon. This stream of raw talent hasn't gone unnoticed by the NBA, with significant funds being ploughed into Africa in recent years aimed at bringing through more younger players.
One way this is happening is with the launch of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), which is due to get underway in January of 2020. The league will feature 12 teams made up from nations across the continent, such as Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia. The league will not only hopefully generate even more players, but also a new generation of fans.
The current crop of African players in the league has been added to this year, with a number of rookies preparing for their debut seasons in the NBA, joining the likes of Joel Embiid, Al-Farouq Aminu and Gorgui Dieng.
Bol Bol (Sudan)
Perhaps the highest-profile African player in the 2019 draft was Bok Bol, son of former NBA player Manute Bol. The Sudanese player boasts a 7' 2" frame, a good five inches shorter than his father was when he first entered the league. Selected 44th overall by the Miami Heat, Bol was immediately traded to the Denver Nuggets, where he will play this season.
Bruno Fernando (Angola)
The first Angolan to be drafted in the NBA, Fernando was picked 34th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, before being traded to the Atlanta Hawks. Playing for a team with priced as long as 55/1 to win the Eastern Conference with the latest basketball odds, Fernando may well find he is given plenty of court time this season.
Miye Oni (Nigeria)
Born in California to Nigerian parents, Miye Oni became the first player from an Ivy League school to be drafted into the NBA since 1995. Initially selected by the Golden State Warriors in the second round, Oni was traded to the Utah Jazz straight away.
Mfiondu Kabengele (DR Congo)
After an impressive spell with Florida State, the centre was selected 27th overall by the Brooklyn Nets in the first round before being immediately traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Born in Ontario to Congolese parents, Kabengele's maternal uncle is NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo.
KZ Okpala (Nigeria)
The second player of Nigerian descent on our list, Okpala had one of the busier draft days. Initially selected 32nd overall by the Phoenix Suns, the forward was traded to the Indiana Pacers immediately before being traded again to the Miami Heat. Having starred during his two years at Stanford, the question is now whether Okpala can cut it in the big leagues.
Sekou Doumbouya (Guinea)
The youngest player drafted this year, Guinea-born Doumbouya was selected 15th overall by the Detroit Pistons, having been on the radar of many teams for well over a year. While he hasn't had the same college career his contemporaries have, Doumbouya will be helped by his time spent playing in France with Limoges CSP.
Rui Hachimura (Benin)
The highest draft pick on our list qualifies through his Beninese father. Born in Japan to a Japanese mother, Hachimura was selected 9th overall in this year's draft after an impressive spell with Gonzaga University. The power forward, who became the first Japanese-born player to be drafted in the first round, is now expected to have a big role to play for the Washington Wizards.
Source - Byo24News