Ndonwawanne “ND” Okafor was born in Nigeria, but grew up in Ireland. He burst onto the international scene at the 2019 FIBA U16 European Championships when he averaged 16.1 points, 14.3 rebounds, and 5.0 blocks for the tournament, which helped him generate initial NBA Academy interest. His journey has since taken him from Ireland to Dallas, and to Canada before landing at the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City. Needless to say, Okafor’s basketball career is just getting started and it has already brought him around the world. Since settling at the NBA Academy Latin America last December, Okafor has continued to make strides in his development, taking full advantage of the program’s staff at the academy’s elite training center.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Okafor discusses his winding journey to the NBA Academy Latin America, his favorite musicians, how he defines ‘success,’ and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect ND Okafor, from the Republic of Ireland:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit of your background?
ND Okafor: My name is ND. I'm from Ireland. Originally, I'm from Nigeria. Both of my parents are from Nigeria. I started playing basketball at age 12 and I joined the NBA Academy Latin America last year in December. It has been a great experience ever since.
PI: Do you have any siblings?
ND: Yeah, I have three sisters and one younger brother. I’m the oldest in my family.
PI: Prior to NBA Academy where were you playing and how did this opportunity come about for you?
ND: [The NBA Academy] actually saw me first at the [2019 FIBA U16] European tournament. I played for my country, Ireland. They saw me first there. They were interested in me. I was playing in Dallas, Texas, and then they offered me a spot over here and I took it and joined.
PI: You also played a bit in Canada as well, right?
ND: I played in Canada for I think three months, four months. Yeah, I played with J. Addison.
PI: How’s life at the NBA Academy? What does a typical day in the life of ND look like?
ND: A typical day in the NBA Academy is, I won't say it's the same as every academy, but it's different. Like every day there's something new. Coaches are trying to add something new for us to do. That's the one thing I really appreciate about the NBA Academy. We do a lot of conditioning, a lot of running. There is always something different to do every day so that’s one thing that’s good about the NBA Academy.
PI: What are some of your biggest interests outside of basketball?
ND: Outside of basketball, I like to watch a lot of tape on NBA players. I try to imitate their moves. I listen to music. I used to listen to music a lot. Not all the time, but sometimes I read. Yeah that’s about it.
PI: What are your favorite music artists?
ND: It’s hard because I have a lot of favorite music artists. First, I think it is NBA YoungBoy. Lil Baby. Second. Third, Playboi Carti. Lil Uzi Vert. I think those are the rappers I listen to the most, but I don’t really listen to rap all the time. I like music of different genres. But yeah, those are the rappers I most listen to.
PI: What apps are you on the most?
ND: Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok. I wouldn’t say Facebook because I don’t really use Facebook that much. But yeah, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. Those are the most I use.
PI: For those who don’t know, describe your game.
ND: I’m an athletic big. I can rebound. I can chase down block. I can score on offense in the post. In the mid range. I think I’m an energetic guy on defense.
PI: What are your biggest strengths?
ND: My biggest strength is post scoring and shot blocking. I think those are two of my biggest strengths.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game?
ND: I think most coaches don’t know, I think it is shooting because at the last big tournament I played in, I wasn’t shooting it a lot from mid range or three, but I’ve developed my shot ever since. That’s one thing I would like to show coaches once I have the chance to play again.
PI: Who’s the toughest player you have ever had to guard?
ND: Toughest player I think I have had to guard…I think in Dallas, Texas, Greg Brown was the toughest there I had to guard. I forgot the name of the tournament, but Greg Brown was the toughest opponent I had to guard.
PI: Who do you model your game after and study on film?
ND: The players I look up to the most are Anthony Davis, Giannis, Julius Randle, and Marvin Bagley. Modern day bigs. These are the players I look at the most in the NBA.
PI: What is your recruitment update?
ND: I think my recruitment is going well. Right now, it’s just the same colleges reaching out to me. Baylor. Rutgers. Arizona. Creighton. Just the same colleges reaching out to me, sending some stuff about their school.
PI: Would you consider taking the G-League Ignite route or going overseas?
ND: I would say I would like to keep everything open because I don’t want to rush into a decision. The best thing for me to do is wait, see every option, and analyze. Towards the end, I can choose a decision. So right now, I’m keeping everything open.
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
ND: Define the word ‘success.’ Success. Helping a family. I think if you can help your family, I think that’s a big success. That’s one thing that I‘ve wanted to do for a long time — help my family, just daily stuff in life, my friends. Helping others is what I think success is.
PI: What do you personally feel you’ll need to accomplish in your career in order for you to become satisfied?
ND: I would like to play in the next level — playing in the next level whether it is pro or college. I would like to make an impact, as well. I think that I really carry that in my head every day — when I get to the next level, will I make an impact? That's one thing that I really want me to do is make an impact at the next level and try my hardest to develop at the academy right now. So when I get to the next level, I will just make a big impact in whatever route I take.
PI: Who’s someone you look up to? Can you share a bit about why?
ND: Someone I look up to is my mom. My mom, she’s done everything for me. My mom has taught me a lot of stuff like not to give up in life. Taking care of five kids, I don’t think it is easy. So my mom, I look up to my mom a lot. I just want to help her in the future.
PI: How would you describe yourself in four words?
ND: Funny. Persistent. Serious. Happy.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
ND: I want to be remembered as a top player to come out of the country in basketball. I want to be remembered as one of the best players to come out of Ireland. I want to leave behind what I’ve done.