Four years ago, Jahlil Okafor was tapped for the USA Basketball select team, a promising sign that he could make an Olympic team in the 2020s.
It does appear that Okafor is going to the Tokyo Games, but not for the United States.
Okafor committed to play for his paternal grandfather’s native Nigeria, according to ESPN’s The Undefeated. Nigeria’s basketball federation later posted the same news via its social media but has not responded to messages seeking confirmation.
Okafor is best known as a star freshman on Duke’s 2015 national championship team. Two months later, he was the No. 3 overall NBA Draft pick by the Philadelphia 76ers.
He has played for three teams in five seasons. Okafor averaged 17.5 points per game as a rookie. Now with the New Orleans Pelicans, Okafor hasn’t played more than 10 minutes in a game since fellow former Duke freshman big man Zion Williamson made his debut Jan. 22.
Nigeria, which went 1-4 at its two Olympics in 2012 and 2016, has a player pool that includes current and former NBAers Al-Farouq Aminu, Josh Okogie and Ike Diogu.
It qualified for Tokyo as the top-placing African nation at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, where it placed 17th.
Veteran NBA coach Mike Brown was named Nigeria’s head coach earlier this month.
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