Zimbabwe's basketball professional Vitalis Chikoko, a former Prince Edward High School basketball wonder, left Harare Wednesday for trials with the Houston Rockets as the National Basketball Association’s draft pick number 71 this year.
Chikoko becomes Zimbabwe's first player to break into the National Basketball Association. He will attend a summer NBA week-long draft camp to be held in Florida next week.
Standing at six foot ten inches, the 22-year-old has a chance to join the multi-million dollar NBA basketball league.
Chikoko said he started playing at 14 after tagging along with friends to a basketball practice session at which the coach encouraged him to join the team because of his height.
"My love for basketball was born that day, from then on I switched from soccer to basketball and I have not looked back ever since," said Chikoko.
He joined a local high density basketball team - Mbare Heat - and was drafted into the country's national under 18 and 20 teams before being drafted into the German League.
"Our American coach for Mbare Heat helped me to secure trials on the German League and I was drafted. This is where I started my career as a pro," he said.
Chikoko said he played in the German League for two years before NBA scouts reached out to him at a European basketball camp in Italy.
"In June I went to the Euro Camp in Italy and I was chosen out of the world's top 30 basketball players under twenty-two years. There were NBA scouts and managers at the camp and when they saw me play they said yeah he is good,” said Chikoko.
Chikoko said he was inspired by Michael Jordan and admires Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.
“I like the type of play that they play and Durant has the kind of body that I have and I hope some of them will be at this camp and I can meet them personally," said Chikoko.
Chikoko said he received a lot of support from his parents who were there for him throughout his trials and tribulations, and he hope to repay them when he gets drafted.
“I would like to make sure that my family is well looked after because they sacrificed a lot for me and were my biggest cheerleaders,” said Chikoko.
Chikoko says he goes through rigorous training daily spending up to eight hours on daily in order to maintain his professionalism and stay on top of his game.
He urged other young Zimbabwean boys and girls interested in sports especially basketball to pursue their dreams and to stay the course no matter how rocky as "dreams do come true."