Nigeria emerged as the winners on a historic night that saw eight of their players, two born in the country and six of Nigerian heritage, drafted into the NBA.
Isaac Okoro who was born in the USA to Nigerian parents became the highest drafted player with Nigerian roots, drafted fifth by the Cleveland Cavaliers, since Michael Olowokandi was drafted number one overall by the LA Clippers in 1998.
“It feels great to be the first Nigerian in this draft to be drafted. It’s also just a blessing. My mom always tells me to keep that Nigerian pride,” said an ecstatic Okoro.
Onyeka Okungwu would follow immediately after being picked number six to find a new home at the Atlanta Hawks. Nigerian-born center Precious Achiuwa would be taken with the 20th pick to NBA finalists, Miami Heat.
Former college standouts Zeke Nnaji and Udoka Uzubuike would be taken with the 22nd and 27th selections by the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz respectively. An amazing six players of Nigerian descent were taken in the first round, which was concluded by the Memphis Grizzlies selecting Desmond Bane with the 30th pick.
Daniel Uturu and Jordan Nwora (second player to be drafted after playing for the Nigerian national team) rounded out what was a great day for Nigeria, and the possibility of what Nigeria’s international landscape could become in years to come.