The Basketball Africa League will see each team fielding a very youthful face this season, as the NBA-affiliated league launches BAL Elevate, a project that places one NBA Academy Africa player with each of the 12 teams.
The African arm of the NBA Academy system is housed in Saly, Senegal, and was launched in 2017, and will now see 12 teens from six different countries joining the ranks of professional athletes as the second edition of the BAL tips off in Dakar on March 5.
"We believe BAL Elevate will be immensely valuable to the 12 BAL teams and to the young men from NBA Academy Africa, who are ready to contribute at the professional level alongside the best players on the continent," said BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall.
"There is a natural synergy between the BAL and NBA Academy Africa, and this program will provide another pathway for elite African prospects to reach their potential as players and people."
BAL Elevate players from the same country as a BAL team were automatically appointed to that team. If there was more than one BAL Elevate player from the same country as a BAL team, the team selected one of the players while the remaining player(s) re-joined the player pool for the opportunity to be selected by a different team. BAL Elevate players will not share in the prize money awarded to the top BAL teams at the end of the season.
NBA Academy Africa alumni Mohab Yasser won the inaugural BAL Championship when playing for Zamalek last season, and is now playing for Eastern Tennessee State University.
Since NBA Academy Africa opened in 2017, 19 male and female participants have committed to NCAA Division I schools in the U.S.
The BAL will be played across three legs this year, with the Sahara Conference running from March 5-15, and the Nile Conference in Cairo running from April 9-19. The playoffs and finals, featuring the top four teams from each Conference, will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, from May 21-28.
BAL Elevate participants:
· AS Salé (Morocco): Nadir Bennis from Rabat, Morocco
· CFV (Mozambique): Reuben Abuchi Chinyelu from Enugu Agade, Anambra State, Nigeria
· DUC (Senegal): Babacar Sane from Bignona, Senegal
· REG (Rwanda): Joy Ighovodja from Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria
· S.L.A.C (Guinea): Serigne Saliou Mbaye form Thies, Senegal
· US Monastir (Tunisia): Charles Loic Onana Awana from Yaounde, Cameroon
· Cape Town Tigers (South Africa): Matar Diop from Dakar, Senegal
· Cobra Sport (South Sudan): Khaman Madit Maluach from Rumbek, South Sudan
· Espoir Fukash (Democratic Republic of the Congo): Emmanuel Eberechukwu Okorafor from Abia State, Nigeria
· F.A.P (Cameroon): Ulrich Kamka Chomche from Bafang, Cameroon
· Petro de Luanda (Angola): Thierry Serge Darlan from Bangui, Central African Republic
· Zamalek (Egypt): Khadim Rassoul Mboup from Dakar, Senegal