Chima Moneke | "Proving that I’m a legit NBA player is my main priority"
The Sacramento Kings have officially announced the signing of former UC Davis standout Chima Moneke on a two-year deal. Chima is leaving Spanish basketball side Basquet Manresa after becoming the Basketball Champions League MVP for the 21-22 season.
Moneke, currently 26, is a six-foot six forward who earned All-Big West Conference honourable mentions in 2017-18 with UC Davis.He unfortunately went undrafted in 2018 but went on to have stints in France and Spain. The Nigerian international began his professional career with Rouen in the second division of France in 2018 and made the jump to the first division with Orleans in 2020. He moved to Manresa for the 2021-22 season and stunned the European and Spanish crowds where this past season he averaged 18.3 points and 9.6 rebounds while shooting 51.3% from the field and 37.5% from 3-point range putting on a show in the Spanish first division, Liga ACB.
Moneke will provide the Kings with much needed wing depth while also growing its Nigerian presence in the team. Something new Kings head coach Mike Brown is quite familiar with after coaching Moneke from his time as coach of the Nigerian national team at the Tokyo Olympics, which Chima was a part of. Moneke was also a member of the international friendly between Team Nigeria and Team USA, where the Nigerian national team claimed their victory in Vegas over Team USA with new Sacramento Kings teammate Chimezie Metu.
Moneke style on the court remains as captivating as ever and has elevated his game beyond its current heights and seized his NBA opportunity, this drive and level of commitment to gain a chance in the worlds toughest league shows what determination Chima had this whole time.
Congratulations, you have just signed your first NBA contract with the Sacramento Kings, can you describe that feeling and what it took to get there?
Incredible feeling. The NBA was always a place that I dreamt of being. Knowing all the hard work, doubters, setbacks and obstacles I had to conquer before getting to this point just makes it sweeter. I’ve been doing what I love for years now, but doing it at the highest possible level in the world is amazing.
What are you most excited about playing in the NBA?
Proving that I’m a legit NBA player is my main priority. So I want to stick around. The lifestyle, the camaraderie, guarding and playing against the best players in the world, especially LeBron, and making my family and friends proud are all things that get me the most excited.
Unfortunately losing out in the final of the Basketball Champions League, but still managing to grab the MVP trophy at the end, how would you describe your last season?
Last season was almost perfect. Nobody expected us to get out of the first group stage so for us to get all the way to the final was a huge achievement. It helped a lot of my teammates get better opportunities and make more money next season. Obviously it contributed to me being in the NBA right now so I’m super grateful for the season and being recognized as the MVP.
Lastly, you attended UC Davis, which is just outside the city of Sacramento. Is this almost like a homecoming for yourself?
It’s just such a full circle life moment. I’m grateful for the opportunity and it’s nice to be in a familiar area.