Last summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Nigeria and Ghana with Giants of Africa, a non-profit organization founded by Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri. GOA runs skills camps for elite young basketball players—typically the 50 best youth players a country can muster—giving them access to the knowledge and advice of NBA coaches and scouts (and of Ujiri himself), and encouraging them to use basketball as a means to improve their lives and the lives of their families and communities.
That trip was an important one for GOA, marking the organization’s expansion from Nigeria (where it ran its first camp in 2003) and Kenya (launched in 2014) to reach players in Ghana and Rwanda.
This year Ujiri pushed things even further, adding stops in Senegal and Botswana. I caught up with him by phone from the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders camp in Angola to find out how 2016’s Giants of Africa camps went.
SPORTSNET What drove the decision to expand this year’s trip from camps in four countries to camps in six?
MASAI UJIRI You continue to want to give other countries a try, you know? I almost feel like there’s an obligation to go bigger—to try to push the limit. And it’s tough; it’s tough choosing countries and it’s tough doing a bigger number. But we just said, “Let’s try it this year and see if it works.” And we did it.
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