Tokyo Bound; Promise Amukamara Hooping For Nigeria

Courtesy Sun Devil Athletics

The Arizona State women’s basketball team has never produced an Olympian.

That is until Promise Amukamara competes in Tokyo this summer for the Nigerian national team. She’s honored to carry the Sun Devil legacy into Olympic play.

“I’m excited to be at the biggest stage of sports,” Amukamara said. “I’m looking forward to playing against the U.S.A. It was a close game at the Olympic qualifiers. You all should tune in.”

Her brother, Prince Amukamara, has a Super Bowl ring from 2011 with the New York Giants. Promise says an Olympic medal would give her bragging rights as the best athlete in her family.

Her professional journey

In 2015, Amukamara was drafted with the final pick of the WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury. She then began playing overseas in numerous countries to build upon her skillset.

While moving overseas wasn’t ideal, she’s gained a vast amount of experience that is ultimately helping prepare her for Tokyo.

“A difficult part of my career is playing over seas and being away from my family,” Amukamara said. “Playing long seasons is the difficult part of this whole ride. Nevertheless I’m so grateful and honored to be in the position I’m in.”

Leading up to qualifiers, Amukamara played for Nigeria’s World Cup team 2018 and in the 2019 Afrobasket Championship. during hose tournamnets and Olympic qualifiers, the Nigerians secured their first Olympic berth since 2004.

Playing for Nigeria is a dream come true for Amukamara, who also hopes this stage aids her journey towards making the WNBA at 28-years-old.

“One of my main goals is to get back to the WNBA and hopefully make a team,” Amukamara said. “I compete with others from the WNBA overseas so I feel like getting another shot at the WNBA would be one of my main goals from this.”

At the qualifiers, Nigeria played well. Their performance garnered respect from numerous others, including coach Sandy Brondello and the U.S Olympic team. In February 2020 during a FIBA tournamnet in Serbia, Nigeria lost 76-71 to the U.S. However, the game began giving this team confidence that they can compete with anyone, Amukamara says.

Sun Devil experience

Prior to all of this, Amukamara played for ASU and coach Charli Turner Thorne. Her time in Tempe as an Arizona native is unforgettable.

“The coaching staff builds you to be a great woman outside of basketball,” Amukamara said. “It’s been successful for me, I’m always so grateful for everything I learned at ASU.”

As she spoke with the media, she wore ASU gear. Throughout her professional career she’s made it a point to always come visit coach Turner Thorne and work with the program.

“They always give me the best gear,” Amukamara said as she laughed. “It’s an honor to represent the ASU women’s basketball team [as the first to qualify for an Olympics]. I’m just humbled and honored.”

 


As she preps for Tokyo in less than a month, Amukamara is staying mentally tough. Her expectations are through the roof.

“It would be huge for Nigeria basketball if we bring home a medal,” Amukamara said. “We have high expectations moving into Toyko.”

 

 

Jordan Spurgeon is a journalist who is graduating from ASU at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in December 2021. He's previously worked for 97.3 The Fan in San Diego. At Sports360AZ, Jordan enjoys covering multiple sports and telling feature stories that impact people.