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Al-Farouq Aminu Promotes Basketball in Africa

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One of Portland's new forwards spreads goodwill and good hoops on another continent.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Freeman of the Oregonian has penned a nice article on Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu as Aminu heads to Africa to promote basketball and participate in basketball camps.

In a sense, Aminu, who is visiting South Africa as part of the first NBA Africa Game, truly is returning to his homeland. Although he grew up in suburbs of Atlanta, Aminu's parents are native Nigerians and the Trail Blazers small forward has a strong connection with the culture and history of the world's second-largest continent.

He's visited Africa "six or seven" times over the years, often as part of the NBA's Basketball Without Borders global outreach program, and he plays for the Nigerian National Team. But while basketball has been his magnet to the continent, it's his heritage and relationship with the people that Aminu identifies with most.

If basketball is a magnet, it's getting stronger:

This is Aminu's second visit to South Africa and he said he's seen basketball "flourish" in the area since his original trip two years ago. Kids used to exclusively play on outdoor courts and their skill level and development was spotty. But now, he says, the infrastructure surrounding youth basketball has undergone a "top-to-bottom" transformation.

This week, he's seen a host of gyms and indoor courts that didn't exist before, and this development has fostered growth in the quality of play and competition.

"The players are way more polished," Aminu said. "You can tell they've been in the gym more ... you can see it's helped all these kids immensely."

The article contains more, including Aminu meeting with Hakeem Olajuwon. It's worth a read.