Promising Kenyan player joins NBA side 76ers
A 22 year old youth from Ngiore village in the semi-arid Mbeere South sub-county in Embu County has scored a major first, after being enlisted to join the prestigious top NBA outfit Philadelphia 76ers academy.
Joseph Njeru, who five years ago had no idea what basketball was, will travel to the United States on Friday on a six year scholarship which could see his fortunes change.
The Kenya Ports Authority dependable player impressed the ‘Sixers’ scouts last year during a special clinic organized by the top NBA club.
His journey to fame started in 2010 when he joined Form One at Wachoro Boys’ Secondary School, when the then principal, Patrick Njagi noticed his incredible height.
Now towering at 6 feet and seven inches, generally considered as the average height of an NBA player, the head teacher knew Joseph would make an instant impact in the game.
He ordered the boy to report to the basketball court for training that very first day.
But Joseph was not interested, opting to play volleyball which he said was the game played in his village.
“He told me that he had never heard of or seen a basketball, court. I had to persuade him to give it a try,” said Njagi, now the Embu County Sports director.
He offered him a pair of shoes and ensured he reported to the court for daily training.
The gamble soon paid off and Joseph helped his team to reach to the Eastern province preliminaries, challenging other more established teams like Kangaru School.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Not long after, his exploits attracted the attention of the sporting giants and was soon snatched by Kangaru the following year.
In 2012, Joseph was the centre of interest, and was again poached by Shimba Hills, a basketball talent centre of excellence.
The following year, Joseph was on the move again, this time joining Upper Hill School, another Unicef sponsored centre of excellence, helping them win the national basketball title, with the foreman being named the Most Valuable Player.
On Thursday, Joseph said though he was excited at winning the scholarship, he remained humble, eager to pursue his dreams.
The last born in a family of seven says his dream has always been to play in the NBA. His favorite NBA team is the San Antonio Spurs while his role model is forward Tim Dancun.
“I hope I will one day play for the team. I know I can make it if I have reached this far, yet six years ago, I didn’t know what basketball is,” he said.
He says his dream at the Philadelphia 76ers, where he has been sponsored for a six-year Engineering Course is to excel in sports, to become a good ambassador for the Kenyan youth.
Njagi says the county is motivating teachers to expose students to various sporting activities to help nurture their talents.
Already, the Embu county government has constructed a fully equipped talent centre and has a football team which is already competing in the provincial league.