In light of this initiative, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) officially launched the Basketball Africa League (BAL). Set to commence in January 2020, the BAL will consist of twelve teams from countries across the continent including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.
The amount of raw basketball talent the continent has can never be overestimated. It is, therefore, welcoming that the relevant basketball authorities have, over the past few years, invested heavily in nurturing more talent and expanding the game in Africa.
With the Toronto Raptors, who have a sizeable African representation also making history after winning their first ever NBA championship, spotlight has particularly been on their Nigerian president and the first African NBA Executive Masai Ujiri as well as roster players Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam. Their immeasurable contributions, both on and off the court proves the continent has so much to offer.
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Ujiri, in particular, is a true African with a big dream for the continent’s youth and the Nigerian-born executive manifests it through NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program – which Siakam is a graduate of, and his Giants of Africa program that uses basketball as a means to educate and enrich the lives of underprivileged African youth through camps.
With that being said, the highly anticipated 2019 NBA Draft was held on Thursday. With several talented and top athletes from colleges across the United States and also teams from outside declaring for draft, expectations and predictions were very high.
As expected, 18-year-old Zion Williamson, who was named the college basketball player of the year only after his first season for Duke was selected as the number one draft pick by the New Orleans Pelicans.
Making the continent proud, these African players were also picked by the various NBA teams in the draft.
Scroll through to take a look at them: