Dapo Sotuminu, with report from NBA Africa Media
NBA Draft 2018 presented by State Farm at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York reached fans in 215 countries and territories in 24 languages. The NBA and Cisco presented live interviews with top 2018 draftees via Cisco video conference from Barclays Center for media in Australia, Argentina, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania and the UK.
Deandre Ayton was selected with the number one pick overall by the Phoenix Suns.
Josh Okogie (Nigeria; Georgia Tech) was selected 20th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, becoming the highest drafted Nigerian player since Michael Olowokandi (1st overall in 1998 NBA Draft) and the third Nigerian player to be drafted in the first round since 2000. Okogie had the highest vertical jump at the Draft combine with a 42-inch vertical leap. There are more than 80 current and former NBA players from Africa or with direct family ties to the continent, including Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria). There were 12 African-born players on 2017-18 opening-night rosters, including his new teammate Gorgui Dieng (Senegal).
Others are, Mohamed Bamba (parents from Cote d’Ivoire) selected 6th overall by the Orlando Magic, Elie Okobo (Congolese father) selected 31st overall by the Phoenix Suns, Isaac Bonga (Congolese parents) selected 39th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Others are Issuf Sanon (father from Burkina Faso) selected 44th overall by the Washington Wizards, Hamidou Diallo (parents from Guinea) selected 45th overall by the Brooklyn Nets and Chimezie Metu (parents from Nigeria) selected 49th overall by the San Antonio Spurs. Kostas Antetokounmpo (parents from Nigeria, brother of Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo) selected 60th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers
Below please find storylines related to other international players selected in NBA Draft 2018 and in the NBA, as well as select interview room transcripts attached.
While the International Players Selected in NBA Draft 2018 presented by State Farm include:
Deandre Ayton (Bahamas; University of Arizona) was selected 1st overall by the Phoenix Suns, becoming the 13th international player to be selected 1st overall and joining Mychal Thompson (1978) as the only Bahamian players ever selected 1st overall. Ayton becomes the first player from Latin America/the Caribbean to be selected 1st overall since Tim Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands), who was the 1st overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. Ayton participated in Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global 2016 in Toronto, Canada and joins Andrea Bargnani (Italy; BWB Europe 2003; 1st overall in the 2006 NBA Draft) as the highest drafted former Basketball Without Borders campers ever.
Luka Doncic (Slovenia; Real Madrid) was selected 3rd overall by the Atlanta Hawks and traded to the Dallas Mavericks, becoming the highest drafted European player since Enes Kanter (Turkey; BWB Europe 2008; 3rd overall in the 2011 draft), and the highest drafted Slovenian player ever. Doncic is the first Slovenian player to be selected in the first round since Sasha Vujacic and Beno Udrih were selected 27th and 28th, respectively, in the 2004 NBA Draft. Last fall, Doncic and Goran Dragic (Miami Heat) led Slovenia to its first EuroBasket championship, defeating Serbia in the championship game. The team was coached by Igor Kokoskov (Serbia), who is now the Head Coach of the Phoenix Suns. Dirk Nowitzki on Doncic from May 2018 (Bleacher Report): “I mean, he’s got all the game. He’s got all the mid-range. He’s got the pull-ups. He’s got the step backs. He’s great with the ball. He can run pick-and-rolls—which would suit him great here now since it’s a pick-and-roll league now anyway. I think he’s going to be great… It seems like, to me, for a 19-year-old [he’s] really savvy. He’s already playing a great court game…”. Dirk welcomed Doncic to Dallas on Twitter, and Doncic responded giving his thanks:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Canada; University of Kentucky) was selected 11th overall by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the LA Clippers, becoming the highest drafted Canadian player since Jamal Murray, who also went to the University of Kentucky and was selected 7th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. A Canadian has been drafted in the first round six of the last seven years (2017 did not feature a Canadian first-round selection). There were 11 Canadian players on 2017-18 opening-night NBA rosters, the most of any country outside the U.S. for the fourth straight year.
Mortiz Wagner (Germany; University of Michigan) was selected 25th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers, becoming the highest drafted German player since Dennis Schroder, who was selected 17th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. Wagner led the University of Michigan to the 2018 NCAA Final Four where his team beat Loyola-Chicago to advance to the Championship where they were defeated by Villanova. Wagner was named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team. Quote about Dirk Nowitzki: “I’m always flattered and shocked by any kind of direct comparisons to Dirk because that’s my MJ, you know? I had his poster on my wall and it motivated me every day. He made me believe that this was all possible. He was just another boy from Germany as well. Shooting is something that I always enjoyed, and I remember thinking, ‘If he can do it, why can’t I?’ That was my mindset. He’s definitely an idol of mine and one of my favorite players of all-time.’” (Source: Moritz Wagner: ‘Dirk was my MJ; he made me believe this was possible’; HoopsHype)
Dzanan Musa (Bosnia and Herzegovina; KK Cedevita) was selected 29th overall by the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the second player ever from Bosnia and Herzegovina to be drafted in the first round, joining Jusuf Nurkic, who was selected 16th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. He has played alongside Nurkic on the BiH National Team, and they were both announced on the preliminary rosters for FIBA World Cup qualifiers. Musa attended the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Treviso, Italy.
Elie Okobo (France; Pau-Orthez) was selected 31st overall by the Phoenix Suns. There were 10 French players on 2017-18 opening-night NBA rosters, including a league-high seven players (tied with Australia) who were on 2018 NBA Playoff rosters.
Isaac Bonga (Germany; Fraport Skyliners) was selected 39th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, marking the first time that two German players were drafted in the same year following the Lakers’ selection of Moritz Wagner. Bonga participated in Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global 2017 in New Orleans. Rodions Kurucs (Latvia; FC Barcelona) was selected 40th overall by the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the highest drafted Latvian player since Anzejs Pasecniks, who was selected 25th overall in 2017. Four Latvian players have played in the NBA: Kristaps Porzingis (active), Davis Bertans (active), Andris Biedrins (last played in the 2013-14 season), and Gundars Vetra (last played in the 1992-93 season).
Justin Jackson (Canada; University of Maryland) was selected 43rd overall by the Denver Nuggets.
Issuf Sanon (Ukraine; Union Olimpija) was selected 44th overall by the Washington Wizards, becoming the highest drafted Ukrainian player since Alex Len, who was selected 5th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. At the age of 18 (he turns 19 in October), Sanon is the youngest player NBA Draft 2018. Sanon’s draft stock rose following an impressive performance at the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Treviso, Italy.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Ukraine; University of Kansas) was selected 47th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers, marking the first time that two Ukrainian players were drafted in the same year following the Wizards’ selection of Issuf Sanon. Mykhailiuk finished his four-year college career with the Kansas Jayhawks last year, helping lead the Jayhawks to the 2018 Final Four.
Arnoldas Kulboka (Lithuania; Capo D’Orlando) was selected 55th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, becoming the highest-drafted Lithuanian player since Domantas Sabonis, who was selected 11th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Kulboka participated in Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Europe 2015 in Gran Canaria, Spain and was one of the more highly touted prospects who participated in the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Treviso, Italy.
Kostas Antetokounmpo (Greece; University of Dayton) was selected 60th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, marking the first time the first time in NBA history that three international siblings have been drafted into the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo was drafted 15th overall in 2013 and Thanasis Antetokounmpo was drafted 51st overall in 2014.
International Players in the NBA are 108 international players from a record 42 countries and territories on 2017-18 opening-night NBA rosters.
This was the fourth consecutive season that opening-night NBA rosters featured at least 100 international players and all 30 teams had at least one international player.
The Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz led the league with seven international players each on 2017-18 opening-night NBA rosters.
Canada had the most NBA players of any country outside the U.S. for the fourth straight year with 11 players on 2017-18 opening-night NBA rosters (France 10, Australia 8, Spain 7).
2017-18 opening-night NBA rosters also featured a record 64 European players.
The 2018 NBA Playoffs featured a record 62 international players from a record 33 countries. During the last three NBA Drafts, a combined 55 international players were selected, including a record 27 international players selected in the 2016 NBA Draft. The record 27 international players selected in the 2016 NBA Draft surpassed the previous record of 21 set in 2003.
Dapo Sotuminu, with report from NBA Africa Media