We already know that Africa has produced some stupendous basketball players over the years with the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo etched into our brains.
The continent is a conveyor belt of stars though and here we look at the African players that could well feature in the NBA draft this year.
Number 5. Ochai Agbaji
The first name on our list of the African players to watch out for in the NBA draft is Ochai Agbaji of the Kansas Jayhawks. Agbaji, who was born in Wisconsin, has a Nigerian father; it was him who encouraged his son to partake in sports from a young age.
Given he’s on the brink of becoming a NBA draft pick, it was a wise choice. The player has established himself as a key part of the Jayhawks team starting every match he’s appeared in across the last two seasons whilst his stats are good too; his college highs are game averages of 4.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 14.1 points.
Number 4. Ibou Dianko Badji
Standing at 7’1 Ibou Dianko Badji would instantly become one of the tallest players in the NBA if he is selected (check out who is the tallest NBA player of all time here: edge.twinspires.com/nba/top-10-tallest-players-in-nba-history/).
His physical stature is one of the main attractions the Senegalese has. His wingspan of 7’8 is obviously vast too and he cuts an imposing figure moving through the court. There have been plenty of links made between him and the aforementioned Mutombo and you can see why; Badji has everything in his locker to become a great shot blocker.
The question marks arise when looking at the number of points he chips in with. For Barcelona B, his most impressive game haul is just 12.
Number 3. Joel Ayayi
If you’re being 100% rigid, you might classify Ayayi as French given he was born there and has opted to represent the nation at the international level. Despite that, Africa wants to lay claim to him too given both his parents hail from Benin. The shooting guard spent his high school years in his homeland but jumped at the opportunity to head Stateside when Gonzaga came calling.
He’s just posted his best PPG record at 12.0 along with 6.9 rebounds; whether he can mix it up at the very top remains to be seen but we’re going to find out just how good here is.
Number 2. Usman Garuba
This 19-year-old has already made quite the name for himself in Europe after winning the Rising Star and ACB Best Young Players awards for his performances for Real Madrid. Now though, the Spanish born Nigerian is looking to move on to bigger and better things; namely, Garuba would like his shot at the NBA.
His game is well spread between offensive and defenses phases with 1.6 offensive rebounds, 3.7 defensive rebounds and 5.6 points per game averages are proof of that. He’s also one step ahead of a lot of the draft – they know already that he can deliver on the court with true pros.
Number 1. Jonathan Kuminga
Topping our list of the African players to watch out for in the NBA draft is Jonathan Kuminga. It would be an absolute disaster for him if he isn’t the first African called. The 6’6 small forward was born and raised in Congo before heading to the States as a 14-year-old.
He quickly became a star at high school level with his point scoring and rebounding ability particularly impressive. After school, Kuminga turned his back on college basketball and instead opted for the G league. There he’s averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
There you have it, the African players to watch out for in the NBA draft.