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James Nnaji: Meet The 18-Year Old Nigerian Who Was In The 2023 NBA Draft



James Nnaji

Young Nigerians have been putting the nation on the map of greatness around the world with their achievements in a variety of fields including music, movies, technology, entrepreneurship and academia.

As the video of Ifeoma Amuche’s graduation speech in a Chinese University continues to circulate on social media and serve as a source of hope and inspiration to many youths, another Nigerian, James Nnaji, was drafted to the 2023 National Basketball Association (NBA).

James Nnaji is a professional basketball player who plays for the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA.

The 18-year old previously played for FC Barcelona of the Spanish Liga ACB and the EuroLeague.

In 2018, Nnaji moved to Ratgeber Basketball Academy in Hungary.

He started his career with Pecsi VSK, a team in the Hungarian league.

He later moved from Hungary to Barcelona in 2020, joining FC Barcelona B in 2020. From there, he moved up to the A team of FC Barcelona in 2021, making thirteen appearances in the 2021–22 season.

James Nnaji

On Thursday, June 22, 2023, Nnaji would declare for the 2023 NBA draft, where he was ranked as the 24th highest prospect in the ESPN Top 100.

He was initially drafted by the Detroit Pistons but traded to the Boston Celtics and then to the Charlotte Hornets. He was the only Nigerian in the draft.

He was also the second-youngest player in the draft and was drafted first in the second round (31st overall).

In 2022-23, he saw action in 27 games, averaging 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game, while shooting 67.1% from the field.

The Hornets compete in the NBA as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Southeast Division. The team is mainly owned by Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. He acquired a controlling interest in the team in 2010.

According to NBA’s draft note, Nnaji has excellent movement skills for a player his size and is especially impressive with how he slides his feet and defends in space. He also shows great body control on his spin moves and is nimble for feet for a player his size (he’s listed at 225 lbs but I’m sure he weighs a lot more than that).

That draft note added that on the offensive end, Nnaji mostly scores in the most and is an impressive leaper and dunker who finishes with power. He’s got a knack for getting open off the pick-and-roll and is a great finisher.

Nnaji, born on the 14 August 2004, grew up in Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria and got his start playing basketball there.

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