Tanzanian pride in NBA star

Hasheem Thabeet mbongo anaishi USA na anacheza basketball katika ligi kubwa ya NBA huko USA, Anaendela vizuri sana hongera ndugu keep it up.

Thabeet will not be short of NBA offers [GALLO/GETTY]
When Hasheem Thabeet is picked during the NBA draft, cheers are certain to ring out in the early hours in his homeland of Tanzania.

The 22-year-old Thabeet declared for the NBA draft after averaging 4.2 blocks per game - second best in the nation - along with 13.6 points and 10.8 rebounds during his junior year at Connecticut.

Thabeet could be selected as high as number two in the draft by the Memphis Grizzlies following the expected pick of Blake Griffin from Oklahoma as number one overall by the Los Angeles Clippers.

Home pride

"There's like a bar back home where they are going to be showing the whole draft experience," Thabeet, 2.21 metres tall and one of the top prospects in the draft, said.

"They have to go to this bar that is going to be open late for that night so people can watch the NBA draft.

"It's going to be 2 o'clock a.m."

The powerful centre, an intimidating shot-blocker during his US college career at Connecticut, said he had worked hard to learn basketball over the past seven years.

"A lot of kids here in the US play basketball since they were young," Thabeet said.

"I grew up kicking the ball and then I had to make (the) transition from just kicking it to using my hands. So it was kind of challenging for me.

"I had to stay focused. I had to put a lot of effort in, a lot of work in, and here I am right now."

"This is just a great opportunity for me," Thabeet said.

"Wherever I end up, I'll be happy.

"To me, it's just great. This is a blessing. This is so many kids' dream to be in this position right now."

Usually at this time of year, Thabeet is in front of a television set watching the NBA event.

"Always every June I sit down and watch the draft," he said.

"Now it's my time to be out there."

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