Angolan Prospect Set To Become World-Renowned Talent?
March 1 2018
Photo Credit: Christian PoPoola (http://christianpopoola.com)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ — A native of Angola, Sadraque Nganga first came to the United States at the age of 11, but his athletic abilities and natural feel for the game were obvious to those in his home country at an even earlier age. During the past three years, Nganga has traveled back and forth between Africa and several U.S. locations, most recently finding stability in Arizona.
Extremely advanced from a young age, no one can truly take credit for discovering Sadraque Buakanga João Nganga, but his first major opportunity in basketball came when he became a member of the F.C. Vila Clotilde U18 team in 2016 despite only being 12 years-old.
The news was rare enough that the governing body of official basketball competitions in Angola, the Federação Angolana de Basquetebol (FAB), made the decision to publicly confirm Nganga’s date of birth (November 24, 2003) in an effort to avoid controversy.
- Class of 2022
- Scottsdale, AZ
Officially recognized as the Republic of Angola, Nganga’s homeland is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Namibia to the south, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
The country’s colonial history was heavily influenced by the Portuguese, which today is recognized as the nation’s official language, although many natives speak French in addition to the Bantu languages of Kongo, Kimbundu, and Umbundu. In fact, the aforementioned F.C. Vila Clotilde club based in Luanda, Angola was founded as an affiliate to Portugal’s F.C. Barreirense.
Needless to say, the transition to American culture and language has not been easy for Nganga, but he has had many people helping to provide a nurturing journey. One such mentor is Padraig O’Brien, the Program Director of Arizona-based Give-N-Go Basketball.
O’Brien’s connections in the basketball world run through all levels, including the professional ranks, as he has trained over a dozen NBA draft selections since moving to Arizona from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Massachusetts more than 13 years ago.
Today, O’Brien’s primary focus is directing the Give-N-Go program, where he offers young players such as Nganga constant guidance while helping them expand their games. The organization has seen a tremendous amount of success since being established in 2014.
“Give-N-Go has teams in the 2022 and 2023 classes, which are both top-ranked in Arizona. The organization started as a skills-training program eleven years ago and then moved into [travel basketball] about four years ago, when Carolyn and Todd Delano became the engine that ran our day-to-day operations along with our youth program.” –Padraig O’Brien, Coach of Give-N-Go
While Coach O’Brien is attempting to keep his latest protégé both grounded and focused, he admitted to ThePrepInsiders.com that the distractions can come in a variety of forms, especially for a young player as talented as Nganga. In fact, certain political barriers have already presented problems as Nganga has traveled between Angola and the United States.
“The [Angolan] government has been an obstacle because they want [Sadraque] in Angola permanently. Their goal is to keep him as a basketball representative for the Olympics. Fortunately, his host family [in Arizona] is connected with the Angolan government and things have begun to smooth over. He is in Angola right now actually. My understanding is the process is moving forward and he will be getting his visa renewed [in order to return to the United States].” -Padraig O’Brien
While the hope is that Nganga’s situation will soon stabilize, O’Brien has remained in touch with his pupil, and told ThePrepInsiders.com that Nganga is enthusiastic about getting back to the United States, and preparing for his summer season. When asked to describe Nganga’s skills, O’Brien was quick to mention how unselfishly the 6-foot-9 forward plays the game.
“Sadraque is a very unique basketball prospect. He is super-skilled and plays with incredible intelligence. While he is a ‘big man,’ he has the passing ability and vision that many guards would envy. He’s quite unselfish and would rather get 20 assists than 20 points. He has a soft jump hook on both blocks and is crafty with the ball, but it’s his defense that people will notice. He loves to play defense and he’s an exceptional off-ball defender.” -Padraig O’Brien
While Nganga may appear to be an adult, he is still very much a 14-year-old kid, and the recent time spent in his home country with family has been very meaningful to a young man that will be more than 8,500 miles from Angola upon his return to Arizona. Make no mistake, opponents will likely wish Nganga had remained in Angola when he suits up against them in the future.