First Jr. NBA League in South Sudan to tip off in early 2024


NBA Africa, in collaboration with Stanbic Bank and the Luol Deng Foundation, has announced that the first Jr. NBA League in South Sudan will tip off in early 2024 and reach 450 boys and girls ages 16 and under from Juba during the league’s first season.

To celebrate the announcement, NBA Africa and Stanbic Bank unveiled a new basketball court at St. Mark’s Orthodox School in Munuki, Juba on 2 December, which tomorrow will hosted a Jr. NBA tournament featuring 12 teams of boys and girls ages 16 and under.

The court unveiling was attended by Stanbic Bank chief executive for Kenya and South Sudan Joshua Oigara, NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams, NBA Africa head of basketball operations Franck Traore, Luol Deng Foundation CEO Arek Deng and two-time NBA All-Star and Basketball Africa League (BAL) global ambassador Luol Deng.

“We’re excited to work with Stanbic Bank and the Luol Deng Foundation to launch our first Jr. NBA League in South Sudan as part of our continued commitment to making basketball more accessible to the youth of Africa,” Williams said. “South Sudan has a rich basketball history, with Manute Bol and Luol Deng paving the way for the next generation of South Sudanese players, and this beautiful new court will serve as a safe space for thousands of boys and girls in Juba to play the game and follow in their footsteps.”

“With a solid foundation and a decade-long history operating in South Sudan, Stanbic Bank is committed to empowering our communities to enable social and economic growth,” Oigara said. “We have been supporting nation-building, expanding upon the achievements made so far and investing in concrete initiatives and programs that support all sectors of the country’s economy. We are glad to work with NBA Africa, who is passionate about driving change and connecting people everywhere through the power of basketball.”

“The launch of the Jr. NBA in Juba will mark a historic milestone for South Sudan and speaks to the Luol Deng Foundation’s commitment to using the transformative power of basketball to create pathways that encourage more South Sudanese boys and girls to reach their limitless potential,” Deng said. “As the first inter-school league in South Sudan, it can become a blueprint for setting up organized and competitive school leagues across the country, while also allowing young players and their coaches to learn from NBA experts and be part of the larger Jr. NBA community. We hope that this initiative inspires more boys and girls to stay active and lead a healthy lifestyle, and we look forward to the league’s tip-off early next year.”

The Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball participation programme for boys and girls, teaches the fundamental skills as well as the core values of the game at the grassroots level in an effort to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents. Jr. NBA programming has directly reached more than 165,000 youth across 18 African countries.

Born in Wau, South Sudan, Deng was selected with the seventh overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in the 2004 NBA Draft and was subsequently traded to the Chicago Bulls where he played from 2004-2014. He also played for the Cleveland Cavaliers (2014), Miami Heat (2014-16), Los Angeles Lakers (2016-18) and Minnesota Timberwolves (2018-19), before signing a one-day contract to retire as a Bull ahead of the 2019-20 NBA Season. Deng is a two-time NBA All-Star (2012, 2013), a recipient of the 2007 NBA Sportsmanship Award and was named to the 2005 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

Deng was also a member of the Great Britain National Team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and captained Team Africa at the NBA Africa Games in South Africa in 2015 and 2017. He regularly participates in youth development initiatives in Africa, including Basketball Without Borders, the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program. He has been a BAL Global Ambassador since the league’s launch in 2021. Under Deng’s leadership, in September 2023 the South Sudan Men’s National Team qualified for the Olympic Games for the first time in the country’s history.

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