Hip-hop artist and athlete J Cole has been signed to play professional basketball for the Patriots Basketball Club in Kiagali, Rwanda, in the first-ever men’s Basketball Africa League. The team is scheduled to play against Nigeria’s premier league, the Rivers Hoopers, on May 16
The 36-year-old J Cole arrived in Rwanda’s capital earlier this week ahead of a signing ceremony on Thursday and the game that is part of a 12-team league, ESPN reported.
Born Jermaine Lamarr Cole, J Cole starred at Sanford High School in North Carolina and was a walk-on at St. John’s University, a private, Catholic university in New York City. However, he turned his focus to music before ever playing in a Division I basketball game.
Cole is regarded as one of the most influential hip-hop artists of his generation and the most commercially successful of the 2010s. He was born on a military base in Germany and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. His debut mixtape, “The Come Up,” was released in early 2007. Each one of his No. 1 full-lengths, from “Cole World: The Sideline Story” (2011) to KOD (2018), went platinum.
On Monday, Patriot BBC team coach Alan Major confirmed that J Cole will be on the team after rumors of his signing were reported over the weekend when his full name was spotted on a list of players for the team.
Rwandan newspaper The New Times tweeted a video of J Cole wearing a Patriots jersey, adding that he “could feature” in the NBA-backed Basketball Africa League. Cole is expected to play in three to six games this season.
News of his debut into pro basketball was the subject of both accolades and banter from social media users.
While some thought it was just a publicity stunt, others said they believe the rapper actually has talent in shooting hoops and is in it for the game.
“All these rappers suck at basketball. They think they’re pros because they access to them. Delusion at its finest,” Twitter user Javi said in reaction to a Bleacher Report about the singer’s move to the Rwandan Club.
“Have you actually seen them play Quavo, J. Cole, etc. are actually really good. don’t be mad that they can actually do things while you’re just sitting on the side-lines criticizing,” said Twitter user JBwrld (32-36).
The Patriots Basketball Club is a four-time champion of the Rwandan National Basketball League.
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