Both the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments are underway this week as 68 teams will compete for a coveted NCAA title. This season, there is a strong contingent of international players from the NBA Academy competing in the NCAA Tournament.
The NBA Academy is a year-round basketball development program that provides top high school-age athletes from outside the United States with a pathway to maximize their potential. The program includes four academies across Australia, India, Mexico and Senegal for the premier athletes from their respective countries and continents.
The program builds on the NBA’s other international basketball developmental initiatives, including Basketball Without Borders. BWB is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program that has seen more than 90 former campers drafted into the NBA or signed as free agents since 2001.
At the Academy, athletes learn the game of basketball and gain invaluable lessons from coaches with professional, collegiate, and international coaching experience. Players in the program compete against top competition and play for travel teams in international tournaments and exhibitions as well. While the program focuses on improving players’ skills and preparing them for the next level, it also allows them to work on health and wellness, character development, and learning life skills. Additionally, each Academy member is a full-time student and receives a full scholarship.
Four NBA Academy graduates are NBA players: Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey (Australia; NBA Global Academy), New Orleans Pelicans forward Dyson Daniels (Australia; NBA Global Academy), Portland Trail Blazers center Ibou Badji (Senegal; NBA Academy Africa) and Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin (Canada; NBA Academy Latin America).
In total, over 90 NBA Academy participants (52 men and 42 women) have committed to or gone on to attend NCAA Division I schools. And in this year’s NCAA Tournaments, there are 40 Academy alums eyeing the top prize in college basketball.
In this year’s men’s NCAA tournament, there are 20 NBA Academy alumni from 15 countries. This includes the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player, Oumar Ballo of Arizona (Mali), Tennessee’s All-SEC First-Team guard Santiago Vescovi (Uruguay) and Duke’s starting point guard, Tyrese Proctor (Australia).
|Jonathan Tchatchoua||Baylor||Cameroon||NBA Global Academy|
|Joshua Ojianwuna||Baylor||Nigeria||NBA Academy Africa; NBA Global Academy|
|Babacar Faye||College of Charleston||Senegal||NBA Academy Africa|
|Francisco Farabello||Creighton||Argentina||NBA Global Academy|
|Fredrick King||Creighton||Bahamas||NBA Academy Latin America|
|Tyrese Proctor||Duke||Australia||NBA Global Academy|
|Derrick Michael Xzavierro||Grand Canyon||Indonesia||NBA Global Academy|
|Ayodele Taiwo||Howard||Nigeria||NBA Academy Africa|
|Nelly Junior Joseph||Iona||Nigeria||NBA Academy Africa|
|Olivier-Maxence Prosper||Marquette||Canada||NBA Academy Latin America|
|Ben Gold||Marquette||New Zealand||NBA Global Academy|
|Patrick Mwamba||Oral Roberts||Democratic Republic of the Congo||NBA Academy Africa|
|Alex Ducas||St. Mary’s||Australia||NBA Global Academy|
|Rory Hawke||St. Mary’s||Australia||NBA Global Academy|
|Oumar Ballo||Arizona||Mali||NBA Latin America Academy|
|Niccolo Moretti||Illinois||Italy||NBA Global Academy|
|Ugonna Kingsley Onyeso||Kentucky||Nigeria||NBA Academy Africa|
|Iaroslav Niagu||USC||Russia||NBA Global Academy|
|Santiago Vescovi||Tennessee||Uruguay||NBA Global Academy; NBA Academy Latin America|
|Francisco Caffaro||Virginia||Argentina||NBA Global Academy|
On the women’s side, there are 20 NBA Academy alumni from 11 countries participating in the women’s tournament. Notable alumni include Virginia Tech’s All-ACC First-Teamer Georgia Amoore (Australia), UConn’s all-time single-season assist record holder Nika Muhl (Croatia) and her teammate Aaliyah Edwards (Canada).
NBA Academy alum Nika Muhl and the UConn Huskies are the No. 2 seed in the Seattle region.
|Esmery Martinez||Arizona||Dominican Republic||NBA Academy Women’s Program in Mexico|
|Catarina Ferreira||Baylor||Brazil||NBA Academy Women’s Program in Latin America in 2019|
|Raiane Dias Dos Santos||FGCU||Brazil||NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program 2021|
|Mariana Valenzuela||FSU||Mexico||NBA Academy Women’s Program in Mexico|
|Yvonne Ejim||Gonzaga||Canada||NBA Academy Women’s Program at Next Gen 2019|
|Kobe King-Hawea||James Madison||Australia||NBA Global Academy|
|Summah Hanson||Sacramento St.||Australia||NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program|
|Isobel Anstey||UCLA||Australia||NBA Academy Women’s Program at Next Gen 2019|
|Gemma Potter||UCLA||Australia||NBA Academy Women’s Program at Next Gen 2019|
|Anna Gret Asi||Oklahoma St.||Estonia||NBA Academy Women’s Program at Next Gen 2019|
|Nika Muhl||UConn||Croatia||NBA Academy Women’s Program at Next Gen 2019|
|Aaliyah Edwards||UConn||Canada||NBA Academy Women’s Program at Next Gen 2019|
|Jana Elalfy||UConn||Egypt||NBA Academy Women’s Program Africa, Virtual and Global|
|Merissah Russell||Louisville||Canada||NBA Academy Women’s Program at Next Gen 2019|
|Emma Chardon||Maryland||Switzerland||NBA Academy Women’s Program at Next Gen 2019|
|Melika Samia||Portland||New Zealand||NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program 2021|
|Lorena Anunciacao||San Francisco||Brazil||NBA Academy Women’s Program in Latin America|
|Kamilla Cardoso||South Carolina||Brazil||NBA Academy Women’s Program in Mexico|
|Daniela Gonzalez||USF||Colombia||NBA Academy Latin America; NBA Academy Women’s Program at Next Gen 2019|
|Georgia Amoore||Virginia Tech||Australia||NBA Academy Women’s Program at Next Gen 2019|
Chris Ebersole, head of elite basketball at the NBA, is thrilled to see the growth of the program, which has now expanded to 40 Academy alumni playing in this year’s NCAA Tournaments.
“It’s rewarding to see the hard work of these young men and women pay off,” Ebersole said in a statement.
“In 2018, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Francisco Caffaro became the first NBA Academy graduates to commit to NCAA Division-I programs before going on to each win an NCAA Championship.”
“We’re excited to see who will follow in Jonathan’s and Francisco’s shoes as the next NCAA Champion. More importantly, we’re incredibly proud of our alumni, who are not only great ambassadors for the NBA Academy program but also role models for aspiring players from their home countries around the world.”
Come early April, a men’s and women’s national champion will be crowned. Perhaps an NBA Academy alumni or two will become the next Cinderella story or even a national champion.