By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Harlem Globetrotters recently held their 13th annual player draft, selecting talented prospects including three standout collegiate players as well as a two-time Oscar-winning actor and a first-round pick in both the NFL and Major League Baseball drafts.
This year, the Globetrotters selected five players, led by 2019 College Slam Dunk Champion DaQuan Jeffries of the University of Tulsa.
“I’m a humble guy, so I won’t let it get me a big head or anything,” he told the Tulsa World after winning the championship.. “But it’s a pretty amazing feeling.”
“I never had done anything like a dunk contest in front of that many people,” he said. “After that, my social media was blowing up.”
Also signed was University of Oklahoma Heisman trophy winner Kyler Murray, a first-round draft pick in the MLB draft and the top overall pick in the NFL draft.
Other draftees include two-time Academy Award winning actor and former Division I basketball player Mahershala Ali, 6-4 WNBA forward Kristine Anigwe of the Connecticut Sun, and 7-6 University of Central Florida center Tacko Fall.
“The Globetrotters have always tried to draft athletes who are superstars on and off of the court,” said Sweet Lou Dunbar, who is the Globetrotters’ longtime director of player personnel and head coach. “It is important for players to excite fans with their outstanding athletic ability, but our players need to be more than that, too. This year’s group of draftees really has what it takes to be Globetrotters.”
A full recap of the 5 Globetrotters’ draftees:
- Mahershala Ali, is a Golden Globe winner and two-time Academy Award-winner and was also selected as one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People of 2019. Standing at 6-3, Ali played four years of Division I college basketball as a guard at St. Mary’s (Calif.), where he averaged 7.0 points per game during his senior season.
- Kristine Anigwe, 6-4, was a star forward for the University of California-Berkeley before being picked 9th overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun. The England-born Nigerian-American rookie was the recipient of the 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award and 2016 USBWA National Freshman of the Year award. A Phoenix native, Kristine was the lone female player to participate in the 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game dunk contest.
- Tacko Fall, a 7-6 center for the University of Central Florida, led the team to its first NCAA tournament victory in program history in 2019. This Senegal native was named AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and was third-team All-AAC in 2019. Fall moved to the United States from Dakar at age 16. Initially, he played soccer and had no interest in basketball.
- DaQuan Jeffries, the 2019 National Slam Dunk Champion during Final Four Weekend, was a third-team American Athletic Conference pick as a senior in 2018-19. He finished his collegiate career at the University of Tulsa ranked 14th on the program’s all-time blocks list with 74. In his senior year, he led the team in points, blocks and steals. The 6-5 forward was a four-year letterwinner at Santa Fe High School in Edmond, OK, where he earned 2015 Oklahoma Class 6A All-State honors.
- Kyler Murray, 5-10, became the first athlete ever to be selected in the first round of both the MLB Draft (by the Oakland A’s in 2018) and the NFL Draft (by the Arizona Cardinals in 2019, when he was taken first overall). He was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 2018 after quarterbacking Oklahoma to the Big 12 Championship. Murray led Allen High School in Allen, Texas to three straight state championships and 43 wins in a row.
Past draftees by the team have included future Globetrotters, as well as high-profile celebrities and sports figures who are examples of what the Harlem Globetrotters are all about – fun, entertaining, and family-friendly basketball.
Eight current Globetrotter players have arrived on the roster as draft picks: “Ant” Atkinson (2007), “Firefly” Fisher and “Bull” Bullard (2008), “Thunder” Law (2013), “Beast” Douglas (2016), “Money” Merriweather (2017), “Sweet Lou II” Dunbar (2018) and “Champ” Thomson (2018). Celebrity picks have ranged from all walks of life, from international and domestic superstars (Tim Howard in 2009, Lionel Messi in 2011, and Neymar Jr. in 2016), Olympic champions (Usain Bolt in 2012, and Missy Franklin in 2016), baseball icons (Mariano Rivera in 2013, and Aaron Judge in 2017), and Hollywood icons (Kevin Hart in 2016).
The Harlem Globetrotters® are synonymous with one-of-a-kind family entertainment and great basketball skills for the past 93 years. Throughout their history, the Original Harlem Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 124 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers while providing fans with their first-ever basketball experience.
Inductees of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Globetrotters have entertained hundreds of millions of fans – among them popes, kings, queens, and presidents – over nine decades.
For more information, visit harlemglobetrotters.com.