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Native American basketball players on the rise

The ever-growing number of players with Native American roots who are gaining National attention is at an all-time high in the United States.

Kyrie Irving, a descendant of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota. NBA Superstar Kyrie Irving was selected #1 in the 2011 draft, winning rookie of the year, All-NBA and becoming NBA Champion in 2016. Played college basketball at Duke University.

Bronson Koenig, a member of the Ho-Chunk tribal nation, reached the NCAA Final Four in 2014 and 2015 with the University of Wisconsin – including becoming the first men’s Native American basketball player to play and score in an NCAA title game in 2015, losing to Duke in the final.

Derek Willis played for Big Blue Nation (Kentucky University) and had a recent stint with United States Men’s Basketball. He represents Southern Arapahoe, Pawnee, and Creek. And growing up, Willis lived on the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming, the seventh-largest reservation in the country.

Koenig and Willis actually played together this season in the G-League with the Grand Rapids Drive. And Chance Comanche, whose father is a quarter Comanche, a quarter Chocktaw and half African-American, played this season for the Memphis Hustle of the G-League after spending two years at the University of Arizona.

A couple of other Native Americans on the rise are Lindy Waters III, who finished his sophomore season at Oklahoma State, and Kamaka Hepa of Inupiaq in Alaska, who will be heading to the University of Texas after being the number one high school player in Oregon. David Wingett a member of the Winnebago tribe in Nebraska will play next year at Memphis University for former NBA Superstar Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.

Native American community now has role models to look up to in the High School, College, & NBA. Youth can set goals dream about playing in the NBA or WNBA. 

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