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Kuminga leads African charge in 2021 NBA Draft

Updated: Aug 11

The NBA Draft 2021 has hosted last night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and saw six players with direct ties to Africa get selected.

Jonathan Kuminga (Democratic Republic of the Congo), was selected seventh by the Golden State Warriors, Usman Garuba (Nigeria), was selected 23rd by the Houston Rockets, JT Thor (South Sudan), was selected 37th by the Detroit Pistons, Ayo Dosunmu (Nigeria), was selected 38th by the Chicago Bulls, Neemias Queta (Guinea-Bissau), was selected 39th by the Sacramento Kings, and Charles Bassey (Nigeria), was selected 53rd by the Philadelphia 76ers.

After his selection, Kuminga said: “At the end of the day I just want to be remembered as that guy who brought a team to a championship, who won a championship. At the end of the day I want to be Hall of Fame, so I want to have a great career where everybody going to be talking about I want to model my game to Jonathan at some point.”

“Starting from Dikembe Mutombo, going to Giannis who just won a championship, you know. I want to be in that category. I want to be one of those players where coming from Africa and one day do something big in the NBA. So basically I'm looking forward to going to Golden State and help the team and just be that one African kid that’s going to come out there and do everything that I can do to help a team to win.”

The first pick of the night went to the Detroit Pistons who selected Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham. This marked the first time in 51 years and third time overall that the Pistons made the top pick.

Meanwhile, 18 international players from 15 countries were selected: nine in the first round and nine in the second round. Australian Josh Giddey, a graduate of NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia, became the first NBA Academy graduate to be drafted into the NBA when he was selected 6th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In addition, a record 10 former Basketball Without Borders (BWB) campers were drafted, breaking the previous record of eight set in 2019.

NBA G League Ignite forward Kuminga become the highest-drafted player from the Democratic Republic of the Congo since Emmanuel Mudiay was also selected No. 7 overall in 2015. He was ranked by ESPN as the top high school prospect in the Class of 2021 before reclassifying to the Class of 2020 and joining NBA G League Ignite. He moved to the U.S. from his native Democratic Republic of the Congo to pursue basketball in 2016.

Garuba is already considered one of the best young defenders in Europe as a 19-year-old and is a member of the Spain Men’s National Team in the Tokyo Olympics. He helped Spain win gold medals at the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship, earning All-Star Five honours, and the 2016 FIBA U16 European Championship, where he was named MVP.

Charles Bassey was named an All-Star at Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp 2017, which was held in New Orleans as part of NBA All-Star 2017, and MVP of BWB Global 2018, which was held in Los Angeles as part NBA All-Star 2018.

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