Nairobi – Two Nigerian basketball players have made history as the first in their country to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft.
The two are among 13 international players from ten countries selected; seven in the first round and six in the second round.
Precious Achiuwa was selected 20th overall by the Miami Heat and Udoka Azubuike was ranked 27th overall by the Utah Jazz, which is the first time that two players from Nigeria have been selected in the first round of the same NBA draft.
Achiuwa and Azubuike are among the eight students from or with at least one parent from Nigeria, including Isaac Okoro (5th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers), Onyeka Okongwu (6th overall by Atlanta Hawks), Zeke Nnaji (22nd overall by Denver Nuggets) , Desmond Bane (30th overall by the Boston Celtics), Daniel Oturu (33rd overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves) and Jordan Nwora (45th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks).
Isaac Okoro: “It feels great to be the first Nigerian in this draft that has been drafted. It is also just a blessing. As you said, my mother always tells me to keep the Nigerian pride. Although I am not in Nigeria was not born, I still got Nigerian blood, and it’s just on my shoulders.
Precious Achiuwa: “First of all I want to thank God. I want to thank God for putting me in this kind of position where I play for a wonderful organization and can not only represent myself but also where I come from, my whole country behind “Me, my whole city. And playing for an organization like the Heat is going to be incredible. I can’t wait to get out there and compete with the rest of my teammates.”
Udoka Azubuike: “For me, I just worked hard and kept my head down. I did not listen to the people about projections. Many people had me in the second round, but I was not worried about it. I know what I am after. “bring the table. I know what I can bring to a team. I know whatever team has set me up, I’ll have to go there and prove myself and work hard.”
International players selected in the NBA Draft 2020 presented by State Farm
Killian Hayes (France); born in Lakeland, Fla .; ratiopharm Ulm) was selected 7th overall by the Detroit Pistons, who became the top player of the French team ever. Hayes was named an All-Star at two Basketball Without Borders (BWB) World Camps as part of the NBA All-Star 2018 and 2019 and becomes the ninth former BWB camper to be ranked in the top 10 in the last five years. There were eight French players on the 2019-20 opening night schedules.
Deni Avdija (Israel; Maccabi Tel Aviv) was selected 9th overall by the Washington Wizards, who became the highest Israeli player ever and only the second Israeli player to be drafted in the first round (Omri Casspi, 23rd overall in 2009). Avdija has been named MVP of Basketball Without Borders Europe (BWB) 2018 and BWB Global 2019 and becomes the tenth former BWB camper to rank in the top 10 for the past five years. Avdija’s father, Zufer, won a bronze medal with Yugoslavia at the 1982 FIBA World Cup in basketball and played professionally in Serbia and Israel. His mother, Sharon Artzi, is a former champion runner.
Alexei Pokuševski (Serbia; Olympiacos) was selected 17th overall by Minnesota Timberwolves, becoming the highest-ranked Serbian player since Darko Miličić (2nd overall in 2003) and the fourth Serbian player to be drafted in the first round in the last 15 years. . . Pokuševski participated in Basketball Without Borders Europe 2018 in Belgrade, Serbia, along with fellow 2020 candidate Deni Avdija (9th overall by the Washington Wizards; Israel). There were six Serbian players on the opening night of 2019-20, the fifth most from any country outside the US
Josh Green (Australia; University of Arizona) was ranked 18th overall by the Dallas Mavericks, who became the highest Australian player since Ben Simmons (1st overall in 2016) and the seventh Australian to be drafted in the first round. Green was named an All-Star at Basketball Without Borders Global 2018 and participated in the 2018 NBA Global Camp in Treviso, Italy along with fellow 2020 candidates Killian Hayes and Theo Maledon (France).
Precious Achiuwa (Nigeria; University of Memphis) was selected 20th overall by the Miami Heat, becoming the third Nigerian player to be drafted in the first round since 2000. There are ten current and former NBA players from Nigeria, most of whom are linked to Senegal. of any African country. There are more than 90 current and former NBA players from Africa or with direct family ties to the continent, including 13 African-born players on the 2019-20 opening night schedules.
Leandro Bolmaro (Argentina; FC Barcelona) was selected 23rd overall by the New York Knicks, and becomes the best Argentine player ever. Bolmaro competed in Basketball Without Borders Americas 2017 and Basketball Without Borders Global 2018, where he was named All-Star along with fellow 2020 candidates Killian Hayes (7th overall by Detroit Pistons; France) and Josh Green (18th overall by the Dallas Mavericks; Australia). In March 2018, Bolmaro joins the prospect of the league’s NBA academies on Next Generation Sunday at the NCAA Finals Four Men in San Antonio, where he competes in educational and life skills sessions, competes against peers from around the world and experiences aspects from the Final Four from a player’s perspective, including attending Final Four semi-finals. Prior to the event, he spent a week at the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City with top prospects from across the region.
Udoka Azubuike (Nigeria; University of Kansas) was selected 27th overall by the Utah Jazz, which is the first time that two players from Nigeria were selected in the first round of the same NBA draft (Precious Achiuwa was selected 20th overall by the Miami Heat ).
Théo Maledon (France; ASVEL) was selected 34th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Maledon participated in the 2018 NBA Global Camp in Treviso, Italy, along with fellow 2020 candidates Killian Hayes (France) and Josh Green (Australia).
Vit Krejčí (Czech Republic; Casademont Zaragoza) was selected 37th overall by the Washington Wizards, and becomes the first player drafted from Tomas Satoransky of the Czech Republic (32nd overall in 2012). Krejčí participated in Basketball Without Borders Europe 2017 and Basketball Without Borders Global 2018.
Nick Richards (Jamaica; University of Kentucky) was selected 42nd overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, who became the highest Jamaican player since Rumeal Robinson (10th overall in 1990) and the first Jamaican player since Jerome Jordan (44th overall in 2010).
Marko Simonović (Montenegro; Mega Soccerbet) was selected 44th overall by the Chicago Bulls.
Yam Madar (Israel; Hapoel Tel Aviv) was selected 47th overall by the Boston Celtics, which was the first time that two Israeli players were selected in the same NBA draft (Deni Avdija was selected 9th overall by the Washington Wizards, and becomes the highest concept Israeli player ever).
Nico Mannion (Italy; University of Arizona) was selected 48th overall by the Golden State Warriors and becomes the highest Italian player since Danilo Gallinari (6th overall in 2008). Mannion was born in Italy and has dual citizenship. His father, Pace, played in the NBA and the Italian league. His mother, Gaia, was a professional volleyball player in her native Italy.
International players in the NBA:
There were 108 international players from 38 countries and territories on the 2019-20 opening night schedules.
The 2019-20 season was the sixth consecutive season in which at least 100 international players appeared on the opening roster.
For the sixth consecutive year, Canada had the most NBA players of any country outside the US (16 and Australia and France each had nine).
The Dallas Mavericks led the league with seven international players on NBA schedules for the 2019-20 opening night.
A record six international players have been named as an All-NBA team for 2019-20: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece; All-NBA First Team); Luka Dončić (Dallas Mavericks; Slovenia; All-NBA First Team); Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets; Serbia; All-NBA Second Team); Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors; Cameroon; All-NBA Second Team); Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz; France; All-NBA Third Team) and Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers; Australia; All-NBA Third Team).