10 Greatest African Basketball Players

Not everyone loves football in Africa. While football is the most popular sport in the continent, it has not stopped many from following a different dream. Basketball has become another sport that has caught the attention of many people. While the United States is the home of basketball, many Africans have found a place in the NBA.

Here is a list of great African basketball players:

Hakeem Olajuwon

Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon got his first pick in 1984 and ended up with the Basketball Hall of Fame. He played for Houston Rocket and the Toronto Raptors. In his reign, he helped the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and ’95.

In addition, he was a 12-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA First Team selection. Hakeem earned MVP and Finals MVP awards and was the Defensive Player of the Year during his basketball days

Hasheem Thabeet

Not many people still remember Thabeet. The Memphis Grizzlies picked him as the No. 2 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft.  The Tanzanian is one of the greatest players in the NBA. He helped the University of Connecticut get to the NCAA Final Four in 2009.

Thabeet made it to top the 1,000-point plateau en route and became a consensus second-team All-American. He played 224 games with different clubs in the United States before heading to the Yokohama B-Corsairs of Japan’s B. League.

Gorgui Dieng

Gorgui Dieng played for Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville. The Cardinals captured the NCAA title in Dieng’s junior season. He was named the 2013 Big East Defensive Player of the Year.

Dieng has made a name in the game of basketball and has become one of the greatest basketball players in the world.

DeSagana Diop

DeSagana Diop hails from Senegal and gained notoriety during his stay at  powerhouse Oak Hill (Virginia) Academy.  From there, he joined the NBA and made stints with the Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets, Cavs, and Charlotte Bobcats.

He was valued for his hustle and defensive energy, and helped the Mavs reach the NBA Finals in 2006.  In 2013, he retired and became a coach.

Bismack Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo is from Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo who played for started playing for the Raptors. The Sacramento Kings picked Biyombo as the No. 7 pickin the 2009 NBA Draft.

He played for the Orlando Magic (2017/2018 season). He currently plays for the Phoenix Suns in Arizona.

Luc Mbah a Moute

Luc Mbah a Moute, a Cameroonian is one of the best African ballplayers ever who started in three straight NCAA Final Fours for UCLA. In addition, he received Pac-10 Freshman of the Year accolades for the 2005-06 season.

He has played for the Milwaukee Bucks, the Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Houston Rockets. He started 438 times and dared for his defensive productivity.

Manute Bol

Manute Bol was considered the second-tallest player in NBA history, and has played for the Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors, 76ers, and Miami Heat.  He was skinny and has an unusual long wingspan of 8 feet, 6 inches (259 cm), which made him a great player.

In Sudan, he became a hero among the locals and supported the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. He raised funds to aid refugees in the Sudan civil war.  Tragically, in 2010, he passed away at age 47 and had 10 surviving children, including four with his second wife.

Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka, Congolese was one of the greatest basketball players from Africa. He played for  OKC, the Magic and Raptors. Serge naturalized in Span and played for the country in the 2011 EuroBasket gold-medal squad, and for the 2012 London Games.

Luol Deng

Have you heard of Luol Deng?  The Sudanese star started playing at the age of 19 with the Chicago Bulls. He played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. He entered the 2017-18 season with 825 starts in 879 NBA games.

Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo has a defensive presence that made him a force in the NBA.  He got inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame  in Springfield, Massachusetts.

He was the first African Hall of Famer. He was a Congolese who won four NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards. In addition, he played  with the 76ers, Nuggets, Hawks,  Nets, Knicks, and Rockets.

Did you watch any of these great players during their prime at the NBA?