By David Awopetu
Nigeria seem to be shining the light on the African continent at the moment as historic number of young basket-ballers of Nigerian origin were drafted to make the NBA class of 2020.
Of the eight players, two born in Nigeria, will be considered for pickup by some of the best basketball teams in the world.
Precious Achiuwa and Udoka Azubuike are the players who were born in Nigeria and if selected in the top 30, would be the first time that two players from Nigeria are selected in the first round of the same NBA Draft.
Precious Achiuwa who was born in Nigeria but moved to the USA as a teenager was taken by the Miami Heat with the number twenty pick.
The draws, 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 drafted number one overall by the LA Clippers in 1998.
The 19-year-old Small Forward from Auburn was selected number five overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Onyeka Okongwu was selected with the number six 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.
Piano-playing 19-year-old Centre, Zeke Nnaji, who was decked out in Nigerian attire and whose father Apham, was born in Nigeria was drafted with the number 22 pick by Denver Nuggets.
The Utah Jazz took Udoka Azubuike who was born in Nigeria at number 27 and Desmond Bane whose father, Etieno Ekiko, was born in Nigeria, rounded off the first round picks as he was selected 30th overall by the Boston Celtics who then traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Daniel Oturu, whose parents emigrated to the United States in 1990, was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round at number 33.
The 21-year-old Power Forward, whose father, Francis played table tennis for Nigeria, joins fellow American-born Nigerian, Josh Okogie, who plays for the D’Tigers at the Timberwolves.
Rounding off the historic draft night for Nigeria was D’Tigers player, Jordan Nwora, who was drafted with the 45th pick by the Milwaukee Bucks.
He won’t be the only player with Nigerian heritage at the Bucks as he joins two-time reigning league MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, at Milwaukee.