After an impressive stint at the Basketball Africa League [BAL] with the Cape Town Tigers, small forward Evans Ganapamo has joined the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA Summer League [July 7-17].
Ganapamo averaged 35 minutes per game during the BAL season, averaging 16.2 PPG, but it was his work rate, and game-winner against Cameroon's FAP in the final second to secure the Tigers' first BAL win, that made him stand out.
He admitted to being surprised when BAL president Amadou Gallo Fall informed him of the Bucks' interest via text. Before Ganapamo, only Anas Mahmoud made the leap from the BAL to the NBA Summer League, briefly joining the Toronto Raptors from Zamalek last year.
Ganapamo, who plays internationally for the Central African Republic, told ESPN: "Of course, it was a shock. I personally didn't think I had the greatest season ever. Obviously, I may be a little hard on myself, but it was definitely a shock.
"I feel like the BAL was the reason why I was able to have this opportunity. I'm thankful for it and I'll try to make the most out of it."
France-born Ganapamo, now 27, moved to the US aged 12 and began his college career with the University of New Orleans in 2012-13 after earning a scholarship. A promising debut season proved to be his best in the NCAA.
After injuries and a debilitating staphylococcus infection, he moved to Prairie View A&M University in Texas, where he spent the 2016-17 season before turning pro.
"When I went to the University of New Orleans, I had a lot of injury issues and I had some health issues, so I wasn't able to really have a good college experience. I left [for] Prairie View because I was trying to get just a different look to finish out my [college] career, because I had one more year of eligibility," said Ganapamo.
Ganapamo began battling his way back onto the radar with Rosenheim in Germany, where he caught the attention of the CAR national team. Both his parents are from the CAR, so he was only too happy to begin his international career with them in 2018.
That same year, his club career brought him back to France, where he signed for Paris. However, Ganapamo's injury troubles resurfaced.
He recalled: "2018 was my first time with the national team and I had a good first show out. But then I tore my ACL. It was during a friendly game with my national team. But I've been playing with them since 2018 when I [have been] healthy."
The ACL tear played a role in preventing Ganapamo from finding his best form during his first two years in Paris, but he recovered in the 2020-21 season and played 14 games as the team won promotion to the prestigious French top division, the Betclic Élite.
Ganapamo, however, was off to Cape Town in order to reunite with Nigeria star Ben Uzoh, his Paris teammate from 2019-20 who had signed for the Cape Town Tigers ahead of qualifiers for the 2022 BAL.
Uzoh, a former NBA player most famous for scoring a triple double with the Toronto Raptors, did not renew his contract with the Tigers after qualifying, but Ganapamo stayed on.
However, the team fell short at the quarter-finals, with eventual champions US Monastir blowing them out the water in a 106-67 walloping.
When asked whether or not his time at the Tigers lived up to expectations, Ganapamo said: "I want to say yes and no, because it's a young team -- it's the first time [they played at the BAL], but obviously, the expectations for us were to do better in the playoffs and maybe have a chance to win the tournament.
"Overall, we can't say we had a bad run, because we went to the playoffs in the first year, so it was pretty decent."
Ganapamo was reluctant to make grand promises to Bucks fans. He knows better than most that nothing in basketball can be taken for granted, let alone a spot on the star-studded Milwaukee roster.
He reflected: "I'm the type of person who takes one day at a time. I'm trying to get better; I'm trying to learn from this experience as much as I can, because I get to be around people who have a lot of basketball knowledge.
"If [an NBA roster inclusion] does happen, that's great, but at the end of the day, I'm just trying to get better. I know that me getting better is going to get me closer to where I'm trying [to get to]."