J. Cole is chasing his hoop dreams by playing in Basketball Africa League during its inaugural season. As first reported by The New Times Rwanda, and subsequently confirmed by ESPN, the rapper’s signing with the Rwanda Patriots BBC is expected to become official on Thursday. According to ESPN, Cole arrived in Rwanda over the weekend and is in the midst of quarantining so he can play in the league.
NBA skills coach Chris Joseph Brickley also confirmed Cole’s upcoming debut. “To see [J. Cole] dream of playing Pro Basketball come true makes me so happy,” Brickley wrote on Instagram. “He believed in me to completely reconstruct his jumpshot…and we took ZERO shortcuts!!! 2-3 hours workouts 5 days a week for months & months!!!! Ive never worked with someone that can stay extremely focused & locked in for hours daily!!!”
Born Jermaine Lamarr Cole, he starred for North Carolina’s Sanford High School before trying out for the St. John’s University basketball team while attending college. Although the Dreamville founder stepped away to pursue music, he still served as a practice player for the women’s team out of his love for the game. Since then, Cole has been a fixture at NBA All-Star Weekend and even released a signature basketball shoe as part of his Puma deal in July 2020.
Basketball Africa League is a joint effort between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation consisting of twelve teams that each qualified through domestic tournaments. The season will begin Sunday, March 16th, when the Rwanda Patriots suit up for their first game against the Nigeria River Hoopers.
Prior to the current 2020-2021 NBA season, Cole was offered a tryout for the Detroit Pistons and video surfaced last August of him working on his game. No Limit rapper Master P, who played in the preseason for the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors in the late ’90s, co-signed Cole’s potential in a TMZ interview.
“I believe in him and I believe that he’s a youngster that has a lot of desire,” said Master P. Now, Cole has a chance to show off his hardwood skill against professional players.