With the expereience gained in the last year, one can quickly forget that Al Farouq Aminu is still only 21. Standing at 6’9 and playing the small forward position, Aminu was the eighth pick of the 2010 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers after having a stellar two year Collegiate career at Wake forest. Aminu entered the NBA with a reputation for his versatility, defensive attributes, and his overall athletic ability. After one year at the Clippers, he was involved in the Chris Paul trade that sent him to the New Orleans Hornets where he found a growing role under Coach Hamilton, establishing himself in the team as one of the premier defenders. During the summer, Al Farouq made a decision to connect with his father’s homeland. Together with his brother Alade, they decided to represent the Nigerian national team in the qualification process for the 2012 Summer Olympics, it was there that the maturity in Aminu’s game showed, averaging 13.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, Aminu and the rest of the squad guided the Nigerian team to it’s first ever Olympic games, putting the African side on the map as one of the rising forces in the game of basketball.
Now that the International season is over, you would expect that Al Farouq would have taken some time out to relax back home in the States, but the Nigerian International made a change of plans, he decided to explore his roots, to get to know the Continent that gave him his name. The NBA star made a surprise guest appearance in South Africa, his first ever trip to the motherland, he visited the basketball without borders camp in Johannesburg where he teamed up with other NBA stars like Luol Deng, Thabo Sefelosha, Cole Adrich and more, lending a hand as they went through several drills and mentoring sessions with the participants. In addition to participating in the camp, Al Farouq also took some time out to learn more about the history of South Africa, paying his respect to the victims of the Apartheid regime.
After leaving South Africa, Aminu headed to Zambia for a two-day coaching clinic with youngsters from all across Zambia, Aminu who was the youngest member of the Nigerian team, acknowledged that there is a lot of talent in Africa, but stressed that the talent needs to be developed from an early stage in order for the players to compete at the same level with their American counterparts, he also spoke to the kids about the need to focus on their education, as it will open up various avenues for them in future. During his stay in Zambia, Aminu ran several coaching sessions with young boys and girls, where he interacted, mentored and trained them in the sport of basketball. The clinic was a success, and Aminu hopes to be back again very soon, his next aim is to visit his extended family back in Nigeria, and when he does, his people will be waiting.
Pictures were provided by NBA Africa, For more pictures and information visit, http://www.facebook.com/NBAAfrica