U.S. rapper J. Cole is a busy man these days. Not only does he have a new album release on the horizon, he's now seemingly putting down the mic and picking up a basketball.
News filtered through on Monday of the musician being on the brink of signing a deal with Rwanda-based Patriots BBC, a team that will be playing in the all-new Basketball Africa League.
Cole, 36, arrived in Rwanda this week and is currently quarantining, per The Undefeated. The tournament begins on May 16, with the Patriots taking on Nigeria's Rivers Hoopers, and it's expected that Cole will feature in some capacity.
As if the hype wasn't already enough surrounding the start of the new NBA-affiliated league, the addition of a celebrity to the roster of the home side has raised the question of whether he's legit when it comes to keeping up with pro athletes.
Cole's love of basketball is well known. He played for Sanford [North Carolina] High School and was a walk-on at St. John's, but he ultimately turned his focus to music.
Cole, told Sports Illustrated in 2013: "I had a fear of actually making the team and quickly losing my college lifestyle.
"I would have had to turn into this guy who had to practice two or three times a day and wake up at six in the morning. Plus I was in love with music and I knew I wanted to rap."
Cole's latest album, named The Off-Season in U.S. sports reference, is set to be released Friday and will be the sixth full-length of his multi-platinum laced career.
That hasn't stopped him from keeping basketball as a huge part of his life though.
Only last July, Cole spoke with The Players' Tribune on his basketball aspirations and later that month he even dropped a signature basketball shoe, Puma's RS-Dreamer.
Legendary rapper Master P even claimed that Cole wanted to transition to the NBA, which prompted the Detroit Pistons to extend an offer for Cole to come try out for their team.
.@JColeNC has always been a bucket 💦— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 10, 2021
He is expected to play for the Rwanda Patriots BBC in the inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League, a source told @MarcJSpears, first reported by New Times Rwanda. pic.twitter.com/izbGwh2Osa
He also has strong friendships within the NBA, especially with fellow Fayetteville, North Carolina local Dennis Smith Jr. Cole most recently joined the Pistons point guard at social justice protests in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.
He also famously played a part as a prop for Smith Jr in an NBA Dunk Contest, and the two have spoken before about how they used to practice basketball together.
So how good is Cole? Judging by viral videos of him practising, it seems he certainly has a smooth jump shot. He also took part in ESPN's All-Star Celebrity Game back in 2012, where he hit a fantastic alley-oop.
The Patriots, who Cole is set to sign for, won every single game en route to East Division success at the qualifying tournament. They're tipped for big things in the tournament too and a sprinkling of star power might even push them on further.