Africa’s Hoop Dreams

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is always cognizant of his roots.

So when opportunities present themselves for Luc to return to Africa and participate in outreach programs with charitable organizations, he always jumps at the chance.

Luc was a counselor at Basketball Without Borders Africa for the third straight year.

Late last month Luc made the trip over to Africa with several other NBA players as part of Basketball Without Borders, for a camp in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was at the same camp back in 2003 that Luc was discovered by counselors. He still remembers the experience vividly, his first opportunity to meet Dikembe Mutombo and Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, the NBA’s first Cameroonian player, as he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in a recent interview.

« The closest I got to the NBA was getting up at 3 a.m. to watch games on TV. When I came to this camp and met Dikembe Mutombo, it was a dream come true. Not only could you see it, but feel it and live it, » he said.  « They were Africans, just like me. That had a big impact. »

Through his showing at that camp back in 2003, Luc earned a scholarship to play high school basketball in Florida. He went on to UCLA and then the NBA and became one of the faces of the program and the continent’s basketball potential. Since becoming a NBA player, Luc has returned to Africa every year to take part in the camp as a counselor.

Among those who joined him this time around were C.J. Watson of the Brooklyn Nets, Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls and four members of the Oklahoma City Thunder: Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha. Deng, Ibaka and Sefolosha all have ties to Africa and Luc told the Journal-Sentinel that meeting players that come from where they did is important to the campers.

« It means a lot for these kids to see that many African players in the NBA, » Mbah a Moute said. « It raises the level of hope for those kids. »

The 2012 edition of the camp featured 60 African players and while the counselors took the players through plenty of drills and organized games, they also sat them down and talked to each of the campers about life and their options going forward.

« The one question I get asked is what’s up after this camp for them, » Luc said. « The most important thing they learn at this camp is not about basketball. It’s about life skills. »


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