Five players of Nigerian descent are among athletes available for picks during the 2017 NBA draft slated for Thursday.
- OG Anunoby- Indiana – 6’8″ 215lbs
Draft projection- ESPN’s Chad Ford projects Anunoby to be taken with the 13th pick of the 1st round by the Denver Nuggets.
NBA player comparison- Anunoby has elicited comparisons to San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard on the high end, and more reasonable comparisons to Portland Trail Blazers Nigerian forward Al-Farouq Aminu.
Profile- London-born Anunoby was raised in Jefferson City, Missouri by Nigerian parents. With a brother (Chigbo Anunoby) who made it to the NFL, O.G will be the second Anunoby to turn professional in a major sport.
2. Ike Anigbogu- UCLA – 6’10” 230lbs
Draft projection- ESPN’s Chad Ford projects Anigbogu to be taken with the 17th pick of the 1st round by the Portland Trail Blazers. NBA player comparison- Houston Rockets Swiss center (of Congolese & Angolan parentage) Clint Capela.
Profile- Anigbogu, the California-born son of Nigerian immigrants, is one of the quickest big men in the draft, as evidenced by his ability to get down court before opposing bigs on fast breaks.
3. Bam Adebayo- Kentucky – 6’10” 250lbs
Draft projection- ESPN’s Chad Ford projects Adebayo to be taken with the 20th pick of the 1st round by the Portland Trail Blazers. NBA player comparison- Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson and Orlando Magic Center Bismack Biyombo are the best comparison for Adebayo and his game at this point.
Profile- The son a Nigerian father, Bam Adebayo moved with his mother to North Carolina from Newark, NJ at the age of seven.
4. Wesley Iwundu- Kansas State – 6’7″ 205lbs
Draft projection- Most mock drafts project Iwundu to be drafted at the end of the first round or early in the second round.
NBA player comparison- Iwundu’s ceiling might be a player such as Golden State Warriors Forward Andre Iguodala. With improved shooting, a better comparison might be Atlanta Hawks Guard/Forward Thabo Sefolosha.
Profile- Kansas State University had a short stay in the 2017 NCAA tournament in March as they won their play-in game/First Four game versus Wake Forest before losing to Cincinnati in the first round of the tournament. Those two games served as an introduction to Wesley Iwundu for Non-Big 12 fans of the collegiate game.
5. Jesusemilore “Semi” Ojeleye- SMU – 6’7″ 235lbs
Draft projection- Ojeleye the son of a Nigerian doctor and nurse is projected as a late first or early second round pick.
NBA player comparison- On the high (very high) end, Golden State Warriors Forward Draymond Green minus the handling and passing ability. On the low end, Boston Celtics Guard/Forward Jae Crowder.