SHEFFIELD (Júlio Chitunda's African Message) - The annual Nike Hoop Summit is back, and 20 young players have been summoned to join the match-up's legacy on Saturday 20 April.
This time, however, not a single Africa-born player will take part in the showpiece, unlike 2005 when three of them combined for 13 points in a 106-98 defeat in Memphis, Tennessee.
The game between the USA and a World Team is designed for players aged 19 or younger and will be played at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon.
Since the game was first played in 1995, some African players attracted the attention of several professional clubs worldwide while others went unnoticed.
The question now is, as the event nears almost two decades, what is legacy of the Nike Hoop Summit for Africa-born players?
It has been a major opportunity I would say.
First, these young players are exposed to a worldwide audience eager to see the next NBA star evolve.
Second, matching up against prospect basketball stars is a chance that few might experience in their lifetime.
And third, most players take this international experience to their national teams, no matter how well they do in the showpiece game.
The event does not change players' lives overnight but it does encourage them to move up the basketball ladder.
Since the beginning of the Nike Hoop Summit, 15 Africa-born players have appeared in the game, and six have made it to the NBA.
However, very few have played more than three NBA seasons as they end up taking their professional careers elsewhere.
On the other hand, both Germany's Dirk Nowitzki (1998) and France's Tony Parker (2000) who represented the world team have become NBA stars.
Let me share with you how some Africans did in past Nike Hoop Summit games.
Angola's Rui Guimaraes was the first African player to feature in the game in 1995.
The world team lost 86-77; Guimaraes spent five minutes on floor, and he had a chance to square off against Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics), Antawn Jamison (LA Lakers) and 2004 Olympics bronze medallist Stephon Marbury.
Two months later, Guimaraes was selected to represent his country at the FIBA World Championship for Junior Men held in Greece.
Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje is the only Cameroonian to have played in the Nike Hoop Summit. He had 6 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes of play during the 1997 edition of the game, which the world team lost 97-90. He went on to enter the NBA draft four years later, selected with the 49th pick by the Portland Trail Blazers.
After three NBA seasons, Boumtje-Boumtje moved to Europe.
He last represented Cameroon at the 2009 Afrobasket and retired in 2011 due to health issues at age 33.
Nigeria's 2012 Olympian
Olumide Oyedeji played in the Hoop Summit in 1999 and 2000 and was picked in the second round of the 2000 NBA draft by the Seattle Supersonics.
He played three NBA seasons for Seattle and the Orlando Magic.
London Olympian Mohammed Hadidane of Tunisia and Central African Republic's Michael Mokongo (2005) played alongside Lithuania's Martynas Pocius and squared-off against current Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis, Indiana Pacers big man Tyler Hansbrough, Golden State Warriors swingman Brandon Rush, Washington Wizards veteran Martell Webster and Lou Williams of the Atlanta Hawks.
Other African players to have featured in the Nike Hoop Summit included Senegal's Souleymane Camara (1998), Abdou Diame (2000), Mouhamed Saer Sene (2006) and Mamadou Samb (2009); Nigeria's Churchill Odia (2004), Uche Echefu (2005), Solomon Alabi (2007 and selected in the 2010 NBA Draft) and Emmanuel Negedu (2008).
Patson Siame of Zambia featured in the game in last year's game.
Republic of Congo's Serge Ibaka (2008) and Democratic Republic of Congo's Bismack Biyombo (2011) have been the most recent African players to join NBA teams after showing off their skills at the game.
Both players are currently on the right path for successful and long-term NBA careers, which means a new reality.
Although not a single Africa-born was selected for this year's Nike Hoops Summit, African fans can root for Germany's Dennis Schröder and France's Mouhammadou Jaiteh who have close family connections to Africa.
What is your view of the Nike Hoop Summit for African-born players?
FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.
FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.
Editor's note: Joel Embiid of Cameroon was added to the World Team roster after this column was published.