How Precious Achiuwa came full circle with the Toronto Raptors

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When Precious Achiuwa arrived in the Bronx Burrow in New York City at age 14 to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA, no one knew what to think of him.

Here is an extremely skinny 6ft 2in kid who grew up playing soccer in Port Harcourt, Nigeria and thought he was a point guard despite his big hands making it difficult for him to dribble and his height making him the one of the largest. children in his class. He was raw, barely able to play basketball at the elementary school level.

Precious was able to come to the United States because his brother, God’sgift Achiuwa, was playing basketball at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, where he told anyone who wanted to listen to him that he had a younger brother at home who was as good as him at basketball, if not better. So Gift coach and New Heights AAU program coordinator Oswald Cross convinced his former high school head coach Adam Maldonado of Our Savior Lutheran in the Bronx to help get a student visa I- 20 for Precious to come and play.

“We really didn’t know he was going to be that good. It was strictly because of his brother and the relationship we had with him that we helped bring him in, ”Cross told Complex. “I didn’t have any movies or anything about him. I just had a little photo of him when he was 11, or maybe even 9. And I was like, ‘Hey, bring it on. His brother is tall, maybe he will grow up. Maybe he’ll be fine.

“When he first got here… He wasn’t who he is right now, where he’s a physical specimen, he’s built really strong, not body fat. When he first came here he was so small and frail, ”adds Kenny Miller, who was the director of men’s basketball at St. John’s University from 2011 to 2014, eventually becoming the head coach of St. John’s University. Precious, helping him through the pre-draft process. and continue to train him to this day. “And he was crude, but his movements were rare.”

Achiuwa grew from 6ft 2in to 6ft 9in in four short years, moving forward to center as he moved from Our Lutheran Savior in the Bronx to St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey to the illustrious Montverde Academy near Orlando, Florida. Finally, Achiuwa secured an offer from the University of Memphis to play under legendary coach Penny Hardaway and, after an impressive freshman season in which he shot draft boards and won honors from AAC player of the year and freshman of the year, Achiuwa made his NBA dream come true, getting drafted 20th overall by the Miami Heat in the 2020 draft.

But it took a lot more than physical growth for Precious to reach the NBA. In fact, the more you learn about Precious, the more you understand that it’s mainstream. Toronto Raptors the forward state of mind that sets him apart, because nothing has been given to him. Everything Precious has, he must have taken, sometimes literally.

Shortly after arriving in the United States, Achiuwa was traveling with his AAU team when his point guard refused to pass the ball to him. Whether it was because he couldn’t get it to Achiuwa or because he didn’t want to forward it to her, it wasn’t clear.

“But literally in the game, Precious goes and just takes the ball from his teammate. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen in my life, ”Miller said. “But, you know, it was Precious. That’s who he is, his personality: he went there and he did what he had to do.

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