Eight Nigerians are members of the 11-man team representing Africa at this year’s Nike Global Challenge, the ninth edition of Nike’s annual basketball tournament for high school standouts and U-19 basketball players.
Udoka Azubuike, a 6’11 280-pound centre playing for Porter’s House Christian HS, is arguably the star player on the Pan African team. Azubuike’s athleticism, footwork, and inside dominance and coordination has drawn comparisons to former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal. He will be eligible for entry into the NBA in 2016. The ESPN top 100 ranking for high school basketball players ranks Azubuike 19th overall for the 2016 class.
Christian Popoola is another Nigerian on the African team at the Nike Global Challenge. The 6’4 point guard loves to draw contacts as he drives through lanes to score baskets. The 185-pound guard for BYU basketball’s Class of 2017 began his prep career at Bishop Gorman (NV), where he helped the Gaels to a Division 1 state championship in his first year. His transfer to Lone Peak High School, Highland, Utah saw him averaging 14.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.
Other Nigerians on the African team at the Global Challenge include Abdulhakim Adio, 6’11 235Ibs centre with great shot-blocking ability and quickness in challenging shots; Josh Okogie, Jordan Nwora, David Iwowari, Gregory Eboigbodin, and Ikechukwu Obiagu.
Other Africans on the Pan African team at the event are: Milan Acquaah, 6’2 guard from Ghana; Makhtar Gueye, 6’8 forward from Senegal; Sedee Keita, 6’11 centre from Guinea.
The 2015 edition of the Nike Global Challenge, which runs from July 15 through to 18, features eight teams drawn from across Africa, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, and the United States represented by four teams.
A championship game will be played on Sunday 19 July to close the event at Whitney Young High School, Chicago, Illinois. The 2014 championship game featured USA East battling USA West with the latter winning 106 – 93.