African draft hopefuls ready for big night
Updated: Jun 21, 2019
Ahead of the NBA Draft 2019 the name on everyone’s lips is Zion Williamson, and rightly so as he looks like a once-in-a-generation type player. African basketball fans will be looking to see who will be representing the continent in the draft and Guinea-born France-raised player Sekou Doumbouya will likely be the highest drafted player with links to Africa.
Doumbouya is only 19 years old and was born in Conakry in Guinea before moving to France as a very young boy. Having grown too tall for his soccer team and his ambitions on the football pitch he took to basketball from the age of 12 and has gone from strength to strength. He can play as a Power Forward and a Small Forward and his versatility and ability on both offense and defense has been a boost for his team French team Limoges CSP who represented before entering the 2019 draft.
Doumbouya has represented France at youth level and there is a lot of hope that he could become a success in the NBA too, much like many French stars that’ve taken the path from Europe to the United States. You have to look at the likes of the recently retired Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum or more recently Frank Ntilikina to see the journey that lies ahead for Doumbouya. The young soon to be draftee has been likened to Pascal Siakam and whoever drafts him will be hopeful that he has the same career trajectory as the Cameroonian NBA champion.
Doumbouya has been playing professionally for a couple of years and that has been good preparation for the shift to the NBA, he is ready for the upcoming life-change, “That’ll prepare me in each environment. On the court, off the court. I’m professional. I know what I have to do on the court, off the court. I’m just pro.” He is eager to show that this is just the beginning for him and he’s ready to do that, he is keeping his head down and focused on making a success of his life, “Keep working and keep getting better.” That has become his mantra. When asked what he can bring to the NBA team that drafts him, Doumbouya said, “Defense. My transition defense. My fast break game. I think everywhere, in each part of the game I can bring [something].”
Another African player to watch is Bol Bol, the son of late African legend Manute Bol. 19-year-old Bol was born in Khartoum but grew up in the USA. At 7 foot 2 the lanky Center has a game that could intrigue NBA GMs. He has a handle on him and he can also shoot, so his game isn’t based purely on his size. In the modern NBA he is the kind of player that teams would battle to have. Bol only played nine games for Oregon in the NCAA but still averaged 21 points per game, grabbed 9.6 rebounds per game and blocked 2.7 shots per game. He is recovering from a foot injury that saw him miss the majority of the season but he has moved to let all who are listening that he is fit and ready for action, “The little pro day I did last week, I think that helped me very much. The 12 teams and the five GMs that came out, I think they saw that I’m back on track and I was healthy.”
Bol is a young man who is eager to impress and make a name for himself, as he also navigates the history and legacy left behind by his late father. He wanted anyone who doesn’t know him to understand that he is multi-faceted, “On the court, for my size, I can do a lot of things like space the floor, dribble, shoot and pass very well. Off the court, a lot of people don’t know but I am a very fun person.”
Names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Hashim Thabeet and Thon Maker to name a few were all first round selections. Draft night is a massive occasion for these young men, many of who just want to hear their names called out by NBA Commission Adam Silver. Over the past few years the NBA draft has seen lots of international players take center stage and shine with the spotlight on them. Over the last three NBA Drafts, a combined 52 international players were drafted, including a record 27 international players in the 2016 NBA Draft. Last year, Deandre Ayton (Bahamas-Nigeria; drafted 1st overall by the Phoenix Suns) became the 13th international player to be drafted No. 1 overall, and over the last 10 years (since 2009), there have been 27 international players drafted in the top 10, including 17 international players drafted in the top five.
These are the players to keep your eye on when the draft takes place:
Adam Mokoka (France) - Mega Bemax (Serbia)
Adam Mokoka is a Shooting Guard listed as 6’5”.
· Mokoka participated in the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Treviso, Italy.
Mfiondu Kabengele (Canada) – Florida State University
Mfiondu Kabengele is a Center who can also play Power Forward whose family is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is listed as 6’10”.
· Kabengele is the nephew of Hall of Famer and NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo).
Bruno Fernando (Angola) – University of Maryland
Bruno Fernando is listed as 6’10” and plays the Power Forward position.
· If Fernando is drafted, he will be the first player ever drafted from Angola.
· If Fernando is drafted, it will be the 12th time in 13 years that at least one player from Africa was drafted.
Sagaba Konate (Mali) – University of West Virginia
Sagaba Konate is listed as 6’8” and plays as a Power Forward and Center.
· If Konate is drafted, he will become the 4th NBA player drafted from Mali.
· If Konate is drafted in the top 32, he will be the highest drafted player ever from Mali.
· If Konate is drafted between 33rd and 47th, he will be the highest-drafted player from Mali since Cheick Diallo, who was drafted 33rd overall in 2016.
Tacko Fall (Senegal) – University of Central Florida
Tacko Fall is a 7’7” Center from Senegal who moved to the USA when he was 16 years old.
· If Fall is drafted in the top 7, he will be the highest-drafted Senegalese player ever.
· If Fall is drafted 8th or 9th overall, he will be the highest-drafted Senegalese player since Desagana Diop, who was drafted 8th overall in 2001.
· If Fall is drafted between 10th and 20th overall, he will be the highest-drafted Senegalese player since Mouhamed “Saer” Sene, who was drafted 10th overall in 2006.
· If Fall is drafted 21 or lower, he will be the highest-drafted Senegalese player since Gorgui Dieng, who was drafted 21st overall in 2013.
· If drafted in the first round, he will join Gorgui Dieng (21st overall in 2013), Mouhamed Sene (10th overall in 2016) and DeSagana Diop (8th overall in 2001) as the only Senegalese players to be drafted in the first round.
Joshua Obiesie (Germany) – Wurzburg (Germany)
Obiesie is a 6’6” Guard who can play as both a point guard and shooting guard. However he has also spent some time playing small forward for Wurzburg in Germany.
· If Obiesie is drafted in the top 7, he will be the highest-drafted German player ever.
· If Obiesie is drafted 8th overall, he will be the highest-drafted German player since Detlef Schrempf, who was drafted 8th overall in 1985.
· If Obiesie is drafted between 9th and 16th overall, he will be the highest-drafted German player since Dirk Nowitzki, who was drafted 9th overall in 1998.
· If Obiesie is drafted 17th overall or lower, he will be the highest-drafted German player since Dennis Schröder, who was drafted 17th overall in 2013.
· If Obiesie is drafted in the first round, he will be the fourth German player to be drafted in the first round.
· If Obiesie drafted, it will be the first time that Germany players are selected in consecutive drafts. Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga, who are both on the Los Angeles Lakers, were the 25th and 39th picks, respectively, in the 2018 NBA Draft.