Friday, April 13, 2018

Former Wright State Forward Broadens Opportunities With Cosmo

More so than ever, basketball programs at the prep and grassroots level are moving at a furious pace to incorporate international talent.

With the evolution of boarding schools and I-20 opportunities increasing, more and more programs are creating an overseas pipeline to upgrade their roster.

For Johann Mpondo, a brusing 6-foot-8 forward at Wright State in his heyday, opening doors to America for promising student-athlete athlete youth in Africa is a commitment of highest order.

For Mpondo, however, the vision goes way beyond basketball and competition and scholarships.

With his non-profit company Cosmo Basketball, Mpondo's focus is to continue steering promising youth to a better quality of life and opportunities which are non-existent in Africa.

"It all started about three years ago as I started helping kids from Cameroon find high schools in the United States," said Mpondo, who has been a figurehead in bringing recent camps and clinics in the Cameroon area.

"I enjoyed the process of helping materialize the vision and dreams they entertained. As we progressed I became involved with kids all over the continent and even Europe."

Mpondo's responsibility goes well beyond enabling the youth to find scholarship opportunities in the United States.

He helps acclimatize them to the American style of play, the rigors of the academic experience, and other challenges they will encounter during the process.

Cosmo products such as Aristide "Ari" Boya and Nik Elame serve as recent examples.

When they arrived in the United States one year and several months ago, both Boya and Elame were entirely unknown and unproven.

By refining their games while simultaneously schooling them on the intricacies of the American game, Mpondo was instrumental in the development.

The two blank canvasses on which Mpondo saw potential struggled to adapt at first.

Committing to a 12-month focus on the game, each made considerable progress.

Fast forward.

Boya, at 7-foot-1, is one of the country's most menacing shot blockers. He's a vertically explosive Class of 2019 big with athleticism tailor cut for the souped up rim to rim game.

Boya committed to Bradley this past summer, the first-ever recruit to commit to the program as a sophomore.

Boya began to attract high major attention from programs such as Baylor and UConn. Boya's relationship with Bradley assistant coach Drew Adams ultimately influenced his decision to commit to Bradley early.

Elame, a high motored and explosive 6-foot-3 guard, is sifting through offers from the likes of Santa Barbara and UTEP. He's improved as a hard attacking, bouncy Class of 2019 prospect.

Other Cosmo Basketball products, such as bullish 6-foot-7 forward Raymond Dieng of Inspire Prep (FL), are embracing prominent roles.