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Meet eight Nigerians who made 2020 United States NBA draft


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Eight American citizens of Nigerian descent have been drafted into the professional National Basketball Association of the United States on Wednesday.

This was made known by the NBA on its Twitter handle on Wednesday.

The annual draft sees NBA teams choose from the best young talents across the United States.

The Nigerians are Precious Achiuwa, Udoka Azubuike, Isaac Okoro, Onyeka Okongwu, Daniel Oturu, Zeke Nnaji, Desmond Bane and Jordan Nwora.

Precious Achiuwa

Precious Achiuwa

He was picked by the Miami Heat. The 21-year-old player was born in Nigeria and grew up in Port Harcourt.

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According to the BBC, he said he had dreamt that one day he would end up playing for a great organization.

“My hope was to end up in a great organisation, and thank God my prayers got answered and I’m part of a great organisation,” Achiuwa said.

“I watched the NBA Finals, and thankful that they’re welcoming me to Miami. I think I can add a lot to the table, like add a lot of aggression and grittiness.”

Udoka Azubuike

Udoka Azubuike

Like Precious, he was born in Lagos before moving to the US. The 21-year-old centre will be playing for the Utah Jazz.

He said he was “so excited to play alongside Rudy (Gobert)”

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“A defensive specialist, that’s mostly what I did at Kansas. I had a similar role to affect the game defensively. So I’m excited to learn from him.”

Isaac Okoro

Isaac Okoro

Isaac was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Nigerian parents. The 19-year-old small forward was part of the USA’s winning team at the 2018 Under-17 Basketball World Cup in Argentina. He was chosen by Cleveland Cavaliers.

“It feels great to be the first Nigerian in this draft to be drafted,” he said after being picked.

“It’s also just a blessing. My mom always tells me to keep that Nigerian pride. Even though I wasn’t born in Nigeria, I still got Nigerian blood. So it’s just having that on my shoulders.”

Onyeka Okongwu

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Onyeka Okongwu

He was born in California to Nigerian parents.

The 19-year-old shooting guard, who has been selected by the Atlanta Hawks, was a high school teammate of third pick LaMelo Ball at Chino Hills in California.

“I want to win a championship. That should be everyone’s goal, to win a championship that everyone wants to win,” Okongwu insisted.

“Myself, I just want to be able to get better, be able to be the best that I can be, continue to work hard, have a great work ethic.”

Daniel Oturu

Daniel Oturu

He was born to Nigerian parents who are pentecostal ministers in Minnesota, with his father Francis a former table tennis player for Nigeria.

The 21-year-old, set to end up at the LA Clippers after he was originally picked by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who immediately traded him for the New York Knicks before being moved on again.

Zeke Nnaji

Zeke Nnaji

The 19-year-old Zeke was born to a Nigerian father and American mother. He played college basketball for the Arizona Wildcats and was picked by the Denver Nuggets.

“I’ve been working a lot during these quarantine times, and I feel like I’ve made a lot of improvements,” Nnaji explained.

“I’ve added 20 pounds of muscle. I’ve really improved my jump shot and shooting the three-pointer well.

“I feel great. My body feels explosive. I feel quick. I’m just excited to do whatever I can to help our team win.”

Desmond Bane

Desmond Bane

The 22-year-old, who will be playing for Boston Celtics, was raised in Indiana with a Nigerian father and American mother.

“You know, I feel like I bring a mature approach. I bring a mature, consistent approach, both on and off the floor, and I think that’ll be beneficial early on,” he said about the prospect of playing in the NBA.

Jordan Nwora

Jordan Nwora

Jordan, who was born to a Nigerian father Alexander and American mother Amy, was part of the Nigerian team that played at the 2019 Men’s World Cup.

The 22-year-old is a member of the US’ senior men’s basketball team, otherwise known as D’Tigers.

His father was Nigeria’s head coach at the World Cup (now the country’s assistant coach) and the duo became the first Nigerian son and father to be part of a Nigerian national team side at the same time.

Jordan is also Nigeria’s highest scorer in a single match after registering 36 points in a 2019 World Cup qualifier in Lagos.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be in the position I’m in today. I’ve come a long way since high school. I didn’t think I’d be able to play at a level like Louisville,” he said before the draft.

Vincent Ufuoma is a reporter with The ICIR. He is a lover of God, truth, knowledge and justice.

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