Luol Deng & Pops Mensah-Bonsu give back in Ghana

Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu headed up NBA Africa basketball camps (sponsored by Sprite) held at the Labone High School in Accra and 2 other cities in Ghana (Kumasi and Cape Coast). More than 40 boys between ages 15-19 participated in basketball drills and scrimmages by Lawal Brimah, head coach of the Ghana national team. Practicing cross-over, defensive stance and shooting techniques, the young players had an opportunity to learn from Luol and Pops and engage with them on the court. The clinic concluded with the All-Star Game between the top 11 players.

Great Britain forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who is of Ghanaian descent, could not hide his excitement with the level of play he saw.

“Some of the kids I saw today could one day play in the NBA,” he said. “All they need is resources. If we have the infrastructure, the funding and the backing, the future will be bright for basketball in Ghana, I see a younger me in these kids out there.”

Prior to the Sprite Ball clinic, the NBA delegation met with Ambassador Dr. Erieka Bennett, who is the Convening Founder and Head of Mission of the African Diaspora Forum that links Diaspora Africans and their talents to the development of Africa. Ambassador Bennett was also a guest at the reception hosted by the Ghana Basketball Association in the evening.

“The NBA is here and the conversation has begun” said Ambassador Bennett. “Thank you for what you have been doing, what you have done and what you will be doing, and I will be watching.”

For Luol Deng, this year’s African trip is simply a continuation of a journey that started three years ago.

“I’ve been very fortunate, very blessed, whatever you want to call it,” Deng said. “I realize that I won’t be playing forever. I want to do whatever I can to help kids out here.”

The South Sudanese forward for the Chicago Bulls also traveled to Angola where he joined Congolese Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder at the NBA Sprite Development Camp.