NBA Global Academy sees first graduates commit to NCAA programs

NBA Global Academy graduates Francisco Caffaro, of Argentina, and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, from Cameroon, have made verbal commitments to the University of Virginia and UNLV, respectively.

This marks the first NBA Academy graduates to commit to NCAA schools, a notable milestone for the league's ambitious venture.

Said Brooks Meek, the NBA's vice president of international basketball operations and head of Elite Basketball, in a release sent to ESPN: "[Caffaro and Tchamwa Tchatchoua] both worked extremely hard and have shown incredible improvement since they arrived at The NBA Global Academy nearly two years ago. I know how much the opportunity to play college basketball and receive a college education means to them, and they've set a great example for current and future NBA Academy student-athletes to follow."

Caffaro is a 7-footer who has represented Argentina on four separate occasions in FIBA tournaments at the national team level, starting at the age of 15. A physical and energetic big man with a strong frame, Caffaro will bring size and toughness on the defensive end to a Virginia squad that finished No. 1 in college basketball in defensive efficiency last season.

Tchamwa Tchatchoua doesn't have quite as much size, standing just over 6-foot-8 in shoes, but has an exceptionally long 7-foot-2½ wingspan, a chiseled frame and explosive athleticism that should make him a multi-positional defender at the Mountain West Conference level for UNLV. The Cameroonian is relatively new to the game, but is widely lauded for his work ethic.

The NBA currently has seven academies: three in China (Jinan, Urumqi and Hangzhou); one each in New Delhi, Mexico City and Thies, Senegal; and its Global Academy serving as the hub for elite prospects in Canberra, Australia.

The academies attempt to provide teenagers with NBA-level coaching, facilities and competition, while also stressing educational development. The NBA is attempting to improve the basketball infrastructure in places where elite-level prospects may slip between the cracks, improving the league's opportunity to expand its reach with marquee international talent. The academies are expected to expand the league's pool of potential players to add to team's rosters, while also helping to grow the sport globally.