It was a historic night for Nigeria in the 2020 NBA Draft, a record eight Nigeria-born players were drafted into the league with two top ten picks and six picks in the first round.
The draft, held in the early hours of Thursday, saw Isaac Okoro who was born in the USA to Nigerian parents become the highest-drafted player with Nigerian roots since Michael Olowokandi was selected No 1 overall pick by Los Angeles Clippers in 1998.
The 19-year-old small forward from Auburn was selected the No 5 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Onyeka Okongwu was selected No 6 overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks, a moment which triggered deep emotions as the 20-year-old paid tribute to his older brother, Nnamdi, who died after a skateboarding accident in 2014.
Another Nigeria player, who was drafted in the first round is Precious Achiuwa, who was selected in the No 20 overall pick by the Miami Heats in the NBA Draft.
The 21-year-old power forward joins fellow countryman and D’Tigers player Gabe Vincent as well as Nigerian-born American Stars Bam Adebayo, Andre Iguodala and Kezie Okpala at the Heats which reached the NBA finals last season.
Another Nigeria player also was drafted, 19-year-old Centre Zeke Nnaji, was selected with the No 22 overall pick by the Denver Nuggets.
However, in other drafts that made the headline for Nigeria, Utah Jazz with the 27th overall pick selects Udoka Azubuike while Desmond Bane rounded off the first-round picks, he was selected 30th overall pick by the Boston Celtics who then traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Minnesota Timberwolves with the 33rd pick in the second round selected Daniel Oturu and then traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers via the New York Knicks.
Rounding off the historic draft night for Nigeria was D’Tigers player Jordan Nwora who was selected in the 45th pick by the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 22-year-old forward who is the son of D’Tigers’ Assistant Coach Alex Nwora, is a gifted scorer and holds the single-game scoring record for the Nigeria D’Tigers’ when he recorded 36 points against Mali during the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
He won’t be the only player with Nigerian heritage at the Bucks, he joins two-time reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo at Milwaukee.
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