BasketballNigerians in NBA

Nigerian basketballer Devine Eke joins Milwaukee Bucks for NBA Summer League after standout BAL season

After an impressive performance in the 2024 Basketball Africa League (BAL) season with Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers, forward Devine Eke has joined the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA Summer League.

Eke, cousin to WNBA stars Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike, averaged 16.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, leading the Rivers Hoopers to a stunning third-place finish in the BAL, a remarkable achievement for the first Nigerian team to reach the knockout rounds.

“I heard great things about the Bucks and the people at the organization,” Eke said in an interview with ESPN. “[My goal for Summer League] is just trying to contribute to my team winning.” Despite interest from other teams, including the Dallas Mavericks, Eke chose the Bucks, partly due to advice from former NBA champion and NBA Africa investor Ian Mahinmi.

“The BAL is an amazing platform,” Eke explained. “I met a lot of amazing people, and Ian Mahinmi, who works in the BAL and is a former NBA player, is a mentor to me.”

Eke’s decision to play in the BAL was influenced by his cousin, Chiney Ogwumike. “Those are my sisters, man. I wouldn’t even pronounce them as my cousins honestly, but technically they’re my cousins. We have a really good relationship. They mentor me; they give me really good advice,” he said.

While the NBA Summer League has featured several BAL alumni, no former BAL player has yet played in an NBA regular-season game. Eke hopes to change that, joining other notable Summer League participants like South Africa’s Samkelo Cele, who was invited by the New York Knicks after his performances for the Cape Town Tigers.

The Milwaukee Bucks have maintained a strong connection with the BAL, hiring scouting coordinator Ijeoma Ofomata from the league and sending scout Dzaflo Larkai to the tournament.

Devine Eke, 27, has had a diverse career, playing college basketball at Maine, Rider, and Radford, and professionally in Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Bosnia. He has also represented Nigeria’s national team.

Eke’s Bucks will face the Chicago Bulls on July 13 in their first NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas, followed by games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, LA Clippers, and Phoenix Suns.

As Eke embarks on this next chapter, his journey from BAL standout to NBA hopeful exemplifies the growing bridge between African basketball and the global stage.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Articles

Back to top button
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x