May 19, 2024

Exploring Japan’s NBA Prospects: 3 Emerging Stars on the Horizon

The NBA has witnessed a surge in Asian players in recent years, particularly from Japan, where basketball enjoys immense popularity. Notably, the success of the Slam Dunk animated film, based on the popular manga, and the thriving basketball betting scene attest to the sport’s widespread appeal. Additionally, NBA preseason games in Japan draw large crowds, reflecting the nation’s fervent interest in basketball.

Since Yuta Tabuse made history by becoming the first Japanese player to join the NBA’s opening roster with the Phoenix Suns in 2004, several Japanese athletes have served as inspirations to aspiring basketball players in their homeland.

Among them, Rui Hachimura, currently with the LA Lakers, has emerged as a standout player since his selection in the 2018 draft. Transitioning to the Lakers from the Wizards in the 2023-24 season, he continues to make significant contributions, including his recent achievement of recording his fourth double-double of the season.

Presently, numerous Japanese players aspire to make their mark in the NBA, with some on the cusp of realizing their dreams. Let’s take a closer look at three Japanese prospects expected to make waves in the NBA in the near future.

Keisei Tominaga (Nebraska, PG)

Hailed as the “Japanese Steph Curry,” Keisei Tominaga, a standout player for the University of Nebraska, is poised to make his mark in the NBA. Born in Nagoya, Japan, to a basketball-playing father, Tominaga recently showcased his talent by earning the title of “Player of the Game” at the FIBA World Cup 2024, helping Japan qualify for the Paris Olympics. Despite an early entry into the NBA Draft in 2023, Tominaga withdrew but remains a highly sought-after prospect following standout performances, including winning the NCAA’s 3-point contest.

Japanese Steph Curry' Keisei Tominaga shoots for stars and NBA with  Nebraska - The Japan Times

Yuki Kawamura (B-Corsairs, PG)

Yuki Kawamura, another promising point guard, is primed for a future NBA debut. After a stellar season with the Yokohama B-Corsairs in Japan’s B-League, where he clinched multiple accolades including MVP and Rookie of the Year, Kawamura signed with Wasserman, signaling a potential pathway to the NBA.

Akira Jacobs (B-Corsairs, Forward)

Akira Jacobs, a forward with the Yokohama B-Corsairs, stands out as a rising talent. Despite his relocation from the US to Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jacobs has excelled in both national and international competitions, showcasing his versatility as a player. With his sights set on the NBA, Jacobs’ journey from the B-League to the global stage exemplifies his determination to realize his dream of playing in the world’s premier basketball league.

Akira Jacobs: Youngest ever to play, score in B.League set to star for  Japan - FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2022 2022 - FIBA.basketball

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