Mbah a Moute

The Fresh Prince of Cameroon

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the stalwart defensive combo forward for the Houston Rockets, is a prince. Let me repeat that: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a PRINCE. Now LeBron may call himself the King, but he isn’t a prince. I watched the Rockets play the Cavaliers on ESPN on Saturday, February 3rd, and ESPN displayed a graphic that stated that Mbah a Moute is a Prince in his home country of Cameroon. I was shocked, as I feel like this is something that should be discussed more in length as it’s not everyday that you find out an NBA player is also a prince. It is time to put some respect on Prince Mbah a Moute’s name.

Mbah a Moute was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1986. Although he was raised and lives in Yaoundé, he has a really close relationship with the town of Bia Messe. This is the town where his father, Camille Moute a Bidias, is the chieftain and where Luc is a Prince. His father is also a government official who is the General Manager of the National Employment Fund of Cameroon. Being a prince isn’t all that what you might expect, Mbah a Moute says.

Mbah a Moute

The family of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute cheers him on at a UCLA game in 2007 (Wally Skalij/Getty Images)

“I don’t really have any power, I just go to different meetings and traditional events, I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to make any decisions. That’s all my Dad.”

Mbah a Moute per ESPN

He grew up playing soccer, and didn’t touch a basketball until he was twelve years old. He taught himself how to shoot and dribble by playing at a street hoop on a lamp post. After playing for a little over two years, he made the Cameroon national youth team at 15 years old.

After being discovered while playing for the inaugural NBA Basketball Without Borders camp in Africa, he was able to get noticed enough that he got a scholarship to go play at Montverde High School in Florida. He then received a scholarship to go play at UCLA in Los Angeles, California. There, he played with fellow successful NBA players Russell Westbrook, Aaron Afflalo, Jordan Farmer, Kevin Love and Darren Collison. He accomplished the rare feat of starting in three straight Final Four’s in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08.

When he came over to America, he knew only a few words of English and still had a very raw offensive game. This didn’t stop him from excelling on the defensive end, usually guarding the other teams best player while at UCLA. He also led the Bruins in rebounding his freshman year. The Bruin fans loved his energy and passion, and even dedicated a fan section to him by calling themselves the “Cameroon Crazies”. This is a knockoff of the Duke Blue Devils fan section and dedicated to his home country of Cameroon.

He was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the seventh pick of the second Round of the 2008 Draft. As a second round pick, he wasn’t expected to contribute much, if play at all. He quickly became a fan favorite in Milwaukee for his defensive effort and his rebounding ability. After sending his first 5 years with the Bucks as a great wing defender, he bounced around in the 2013-2014 season playing for the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves, not getting much playing time with either team. He signed with the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2014-2015 season. Even though they were one of the worst teams in the NBA, he had a career year scoring the ball averaging 9.9 points per game while also gathering 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He then spent two years with the Los Angles Clippers. This is when he finally developed into a serviceable three point shooter, shooting 37.3 percent from three over those 2 seasons.

This past off-season, Mbah a Moute signed with the Houston Rockets, where he has continued his development into a 3 and D player. He has hit a career high 1.1 threes a game and has made them at a 36.5 percent clip. He has helped Houston turn into one of the better defensive teams in basketball with a 106.9 defensive rating, while also having the best offensive teams in the league with a 115.6 offensive rating. The Rockets are currently 2nd in the Western Conference behind the Golden State Warriors.

Mbah a Moute at a Basketball Without Borders Camp practice (CNN)

Mbah a Moute has career averages of 6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.9 steals per game on 45.3 percent from the field and 33 percent from downtown.

Mbah a Moute is the 2nd player ever to play in the NBA from Cameroon. The first was 7-0 center named Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje. He played only 44 games over three years for the Portland Trail Blazers from 2001-2004 before fizzling out the league. In his work with the Basketball Without Borders program, he helped discover Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center and social media icon Joel Embiid and Toronto Raptors power forward Pascal Siakam, both of whom are also from Cameroon.

Mbah a Moute has one of the most interesting backstories in the NBA, and no matter how it turns out, he still is a Prince. Not many people in the world can say that.

 

Featured photo by: Getty Images

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An Update on World Cup Qualifying (Part 1)

Late March in soccer means one thing, the international break. And while many players have been enjoying a “spring break” of sorts, many have been dealing with the pressure of getting their respective nations to the arguably the biggest stage in sport, the World Cup.

Asia (AFC)

While the traditional powerhouses tend to come from Europe and South America, the popularity and quality of the sport is on the rise in Asia. Australia, Japan and South Korea have been regular competitors in the World Cup, but it is Iran who have taken command of their group, Group A, and look set to advance to the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Australia’s spot in the tournament could be under threat as they currently sit third in Group B behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. If the Socceroos fail to make up the points in the final three fixtures they will face a two leg aggregate playoff against the other third place side from Group A, which is likely to be Uzbekistan or South Korea.

Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan would bring new flavor to the tournament as Saudi Arabia missed out on the last two tournaments and Uzbekistan has never qualified.

Australia will have to make up ground on Saudi Arabia and Japan if they hope to avoid a do or die playoff

Who Will Be in Russia Next Summer?

Iran, Saudi Arabia and Japan have put themselves in prime position to qualify.

South Korea possesses talent such as Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min, and their players’ European experience should get them through.

Finally, Australia know how to get it done and 37 year old striker Tim Cahill will propel them to a playoff victory in what is likely to be his final World Cup campaign.

 

Africa (CAF)

Africa is also in its final stage of qualification. Since South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010, the talent of African nations has risen significantly. Ghana’s run to the quarterfinals in 2010 and the rise of many African players at big European clubs is a perfect example of this.

The final stage of qualifying involves five groups A-E of four teams with the winner of each group advancing to Russia next summer. With two out of the six fixtures played, it is still relatively early.

Group A has broken out into a two horse race between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) and Tunisia. Both sides have proven European players with Everton winger Yannick Bolasie and Villarreal striker Cedric Bakambu featuring for DR Congo while Tunisia fields dynamic Sunderland playmaker Wahbi Khazri and veteran defender Aymen Abdennour of Valencia.

Group B features three “blue bloods” of African soccer in Nigeria, Cameroon and Algeria. The Nigerians lead the group by four points after former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel and current Blues wing back Victor Moses combined for three goals in a win over Riyad Mahrez led Algeria.  If results in the group hold, Nigeria will bring a talented side to Russia featuring young attacking talent in 20 year olds Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi of Manchester City and Arsenal respectively, in addition to the aforementioned Mikel and Moses. Cameroon’s post-Samuel Eto’o hangover may keep them out of the World Cup for just the second time since 1990.

Group C sees Borussia Dortmund superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang try and guide his native Gabon to its first World Cup. However, Gabon sit two points behind group favorites Ivory Coast, who possess a large talent pool that includes Manchester United defender Eric Bailly, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, and Paris Saint Germain defender Serge Aurier among others.

Group D contains a tight race between co-leaders Burkina Faso and South Africa, while Sadio Mane-led Senegal sits one point behind. Meanwhile, Egypt has broken ahead in Group E with six points while African giants Ghana have stumbled out of the gate to the tune of one point from their first two matches.

Luis Suarez’s controversial handball helped end Ghana’s incredible run in South Africa in 2010. Now, they are fighting to even qualify for next summer’s tournament.

Who Will Be in Russia Next Summer?

Group A may be the toughest to call, but the attacking prowess of DR Congo should see them through.

Nigeria’s balance in every area of the pitch should help them guard their lead in Group B.

Despite the brilliance of Aubameyang, Gabon don’t have the other talent to match up against a much more well rounded Ivory Coast side in Group C.

Expect Liverpool’s Mane to guide Senegal to Russia in a group that features few other big European players.

Finally, Ghana has the talent to challenge Egypt but the hole may to big to climb out of. Expect to see Mohammed Salah and Co. next summer.

Still To Come

Part 2: North America & South America

Part 3: Europe

 

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