Basketball: Eight Nigerian Players Gets Selected In 2020 NBA Draft
NBA draft is an annual event in which the teams from the National Basketball Association (NBA) can draft in players who are eligible and wish to join the league. These are typically university basketball players, but international players are also eligible to be drafted.
Six of the players – Isaac Okoro, Onyeka Okongwu, Precious Achiuwa, Zeke Nnaji, Udoka Azubuike and Desmond Bane were selected in the first round, while Daniel Oturu and Jordan Nwora were selected in the second round.
NBA in a tweet in the early hours of Thursday announced that Nigeria is well represented in the 2020 draft.
Nigeria is well represented in this year’s draft class! 🇳🇬
Born in Nigeria:
Parents from Nigeria:
Father from Nigeria:
— NBA (@NBA) November 19, 2020
The draws, which held in the early hours of Thursday, saw Isaac Okoro who was born in the USA to Nigerian parents become the highest drafted player with Nigerian roots since Michael Olowokandi was drafted number one overall by LA Clippers in 1998.
The 19-year-old Forward from Auburn was selected number five overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) November 19, 2020
Onyeka Okongwu was selected with the number six pick by the Atlanta Hawks, a moment which triggered deep emotions as the 20-year-old paid tribute to his older brother, Nnamdi, who died after a skateboarding accident in 2014.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) November 19, 2020
— ESPN (@espn) November 19, 2020
Precious Achiuwa, who was born in Nigeria but moved to the USA as a teenager, was taken by the Miami Heat with the number twenty pick.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 19, 2020
The 21-year-old Power Forward joins countryman and D’Tigers player Gabe Vincent as well as Bam Adebayo, Andre Iguodala and Kezie Okpala who are of Nigerian descent at the Heat which reached the NBA finals last season.
An excited Pat Riley who heads basketball operations at the Heat speaking about selecting Achiuwa, expressed;
He’s an explosive player. He plays above the rim. We were very impressed with him. He was in our wheel house, we were very excited to select him. We think we have probably one of the most underrated players in the draft and he may be the most athletic player in the draft.
We are very excited to have him. We think he fits in perfectly. I’m excited that at 20 we were able to find a player who is that good and who has that kind of quality.
Piano-playing 19-year-old Centre, Zeke Nnaji who donned Nigerian attire during the ceremony, whose father Apham, was born in Nigeria, was drafted with the number 22 pick by Denver Nuggets.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) November 19, 2020
All glory to The Most High🙏🏽🇳🇬✊🏽 I’m coming ready to work!! pic.twitter.com/cXYnNwYjak
— Zeke Nnaji (@ZekeNnaji_Hoopz) November 19, 2020
Born in Lagos, 7ft tall centre Udoka Azubuike was selected by the Utah Jazz as the 27th pick.
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) November 19, 2020
With the 30th pick, the Grizzlies select Desmond Bane @brhoops
Final pick of the first round. pic.twitter.com/5zqrKbSLaJ
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) November 19, 2020
Daniel Oturu, whose parents emigrated to the United States from Nigeria in 1990, was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round at number 33.
The 21-year-old Power Forward, whose father Francis played table tennis for Nigeria joins fellow American-born Nigerian, Josh Okogie who plays for the D’Tigers at the Timberwolves.
— Minnesota Men’s Basketball (@GopherMBB) November 19, 2020
Rounding off the historic draft night for Nigeria was D’Tigers player, Jordan Nwora who was drafted with the 45th pick by the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 22-year-old forward, whose father Alex coaches D’Tigers, holds the single game scoring record for the Nigerian national team with 36 points scored against Mali during the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers.
He won’t be the only player with Nigerian heritage at the Bucks as he joins two-time reigning league MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo at Milwaukee.
This is gonna be fun.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) November 19, 2020