May 28, 2024

The pool of talent Nigeria has across the world is undoubtedly vast, and one shining example of this burgeoning talent is Armando Akapo.

Originating from Owerri, Nigeria, this towering 6-foot-5 athlete is currently making waves on the courts of Macalester College in the United States, marking his path toward the 2025 NBA Draft.

In his recent stint with Macalester, Akapo showcased his skills in 14 games, tallying 12 points, 28 rebounds, an assist, and eight blocks.

Armando AkapoArmando Akapo

His journey with Macalester began in the 2021-2022 season, where he played in six games contributing five rebounds to the Scots’ efforts.

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One of his standout showings included an impressive display of six points and 15 rebounds against Minnesota-Morris on January 30, 2023.

Before joining Macalester, Akapo earned All-conference honors at Pomona High School in California, boasting a distinguished athletic career with a 4.6 GPA.

A true scholar-athlete, he received honors escort,  Seal of Biliteracy and the Golden State Seal Merit.

In an exclusive interview with ace Basketball Journo; Kenny Bamidele, Armando Akapo shared his journey into basketball citing his move to the United States in 2018 as the catalyst.

His height, coupled with the recreational popularity of basketball, drew him into the sport, helping him integrate into the American society and make friends.

Reflecting on a memorable college moment, Akapo highlighted his team’s historic journey to the conference finals in his first year at Macalester.

Despite falling short by just four points, the experience was special, marking a turning point for the basketball program.

“A significant highlight for me was during my first year in our program. While our basketball team was on the rise, reaching the conference finals it marked only the second time in the school’s history after nearly 18 years.

Despite losing by four points which felt like a victory to us, the away game’s officiating wasn’t in our favor. It was a mix of high and low emotions but making history with nearly a thousand fans in the arena made it truly special”.

When asked about balancing academics with basketball commitments, Akapo admitted the ongoing struggle but emphasized improved time management over his college years. He outlined his approach; prioritizing homework before social activities.

“Balancing academics and my commitment to basketball has been a constant challenge. Over my two or three years in college, I’ve become more adept at managing my time effectively.

When faced with the choice between attending a weekend party and completing homework, I prioritize the academic tasks. If I can finish the homework then I’ll join the party, if not I make sure to complete my assignments first.”

Armando Akapo expressed his admiration for Giannis Antetokounmpo, despite the latter not playing for the Nigerian national team.

Inspired by Giannis’s journey and achievements, Akapo aspires to excel both academically and athletically.

Read More: How to get a US scholarship

“Despite not playing for Nigeria, I look up to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Being Yoruba, I find his inspiring story truly motivating.

Setting high goals for himself he achieved remarkable success against the odds earning accolades such as DPOY, MVP and securing an NBA ring at just 29 years old.”

While delving into Nigerian basketball, Akapo mentioned witnessing the national team’s triumph against the US two years back.

Stressing the significance of not underestimating any opponent, he drew connections to his own experiences as an underdog.

“I watched when they defeated the US about two years ago. The experience was special to me because it echoed my own basketball journey in school.

As underdogs, there are times when you’re underestimated, and people expected the mighty US to easily defeat the Nigerian team. It serves as a reminder that you should never underestimate any opponent.”

Asked about his playing style, Akapo described himself as a versatile player, akin to a 2-5, combining the attributes of a shooting guard with strength for post-up plays.

He emphasized his focus on improving decision-making on the court whether to shoot, pass, or screen for teammates.

Akapo’s commitment to Nigeria remains intact. If given the chance, he would eagerly don the green and white jersey highlighting the importance of giving back to his roots.

“Without a doubt, I love my country. Despite not being in Nigeria for the past five years since I arrived here, I would give everything to play for the Nigerian national team. At some point we all need to give back and remember our roots.”

As he envisions his future, Akapo aims to be the best in both academics and basketball reiterating the dedication that has defined his journey so far.

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