African Basketball More than just Success Stories


The past few years have seen a swell of African basketball players coming to the United States and succeeding at the highest level. Look no further than the Toronto Raptors, led by Cameroonian Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka of the Congo. 

Raptors president Masai Ujiri has played a major role in helping to grow basketball on the continent with his Giants of Africa program meant to enrich the lives of Africans through the sport.

The pipeline has shown no signs of slowing down with a record nine African players drafted in last year's NBA draft. But behind all the success, Sports Illustrated senior writer L. Jon Wertheim says there are far more unhappy stories.


The pipeline of African basketball players coming to the United States is one littered with corruption and abuse, according to Wertheim.

"What's unique about the African pipeline is there are these visas, these I20 visas that are needed to get these students over to the U.S. and private schools, institutions, a lot of these academies, some of these fly by night academies, they seem to have essentially carte blanche to issue these visas and that seems to be where a lot of the trouble starts," Wertheim said.

As part of Wertheim's year long 60 minutes investigation, he said he found multiple tragic stories including one where one man signed two boys to deals that required them to fork over 50% of their future earnings.

The full story can be found on Sports Illustrated's main page and 60 minutes special will air Sunday, March 29, 2020 on CBS at 7 p.m. ET.