It is a nail-biting time for African Under-19 players, as the annual Nike Hoop Summit is just a few weeks away, and the World Select Team is going to be announced any time this month. There has long been a player connection between the NBA and this summit.
The contest between the USA Team and the World Select Team takes place on April 20, at Oregon’s Rose Garden Arena, home to the Portland Trail Blazers.
For most of these players, age 19 or younger, the event means a springboard into the NCAA, a professional basketball career, or, for the most gifted, it means entry into the NBA.
The game is of such importance for those aspiring players that each second they spend on the floor means an opportunity to express their basketball ability.
As of March 2013, 68 former USA players and 17 former World Team members have been active in the NBA, including two Africans Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka.
With a thorough look at current NBA rosters and it is easy to figure out that 140 former Nike Hoop Summit players have been drafted by NBA teams, including international players Nicolas Batum, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tony Parker.
African players have become household names too.
Since the summit’s inception in 1995, fifteen African-born players have showed their skills in the game, and six have made it to the NBA.
Some made it in a remarkable fashion, especially Charlotte Bobcat Bismack Biyombo, during the 2011 showing.
He had a triple-double 12 points, 11 rebounds, and a Nike Hoop Summit record 10 blocked shots for the first triple-double in the game’s history, although the World Select Team fell short 92-80.
Minutes after the game, World Team’s head coach Roy Rana said of the Democratic Republic of Congo-native: “He is a phenomenal talent.”
“It has been a pleasure to coach him and he showed a lot of people tonight what kind of player he is and what he can become.”
What happened next? Well, Biyombo was drafted as the 7th overall pick by the Sacramento Kings, before he was traded to the Charlotte Bobcats.
Other African players who were involved with both the summit and the NBA include: Cameroonian Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje who was picked 49th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2001 NBA Draft. After three seasons in the NBA he took his career to Europe; Nigeria Olumide Oyedeji who was picked in second round of 2000 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics and played three NBA seasons, split between the Supersonics and the Orlando Magic; Senegalese Mouhamed Saer Sene who was drafted 10 overall by the Seattle Supersonics in 2006 and played for the Oklahoma City Thunder; Nigerian Solomon Alabi who featured in the 2007 summit edition and was a 2nd round draft pick, (50th overall) by the Dallas Mavericks in 2010, before being traded to Toronto in exchange for a 2013 conditional second-round pick and cash considerations; and Georgia-born, Nigeria international Al Farouq Aminu who played for the USA Team at the summit in 2008 before being selected as the 8th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. He currently plays for the New Orleans Hornets.
As for this year, until we find out which African players will be selected to the upcoming summit, let’s keep watching former Nike Hoop Summit players evolving in the NBA.