Jannon Otto ? the name does not say much to observers of African women's basketball, but the 25-year-old American has become Ugandan since February 12. With the Gazelles, she took part in her first international tournament during the Fiba Zone 5 qualifiers for the 2023 Women's Afrobasket.
The trend is starting to turn around in African basketball. Seeing a white man pull on an African team's jersey used to be out of the ordinary. But for almost ten years, the exodus of talent is in the opposite direction. Tunisia had its American Michael Roll, Côte d'Ivoire its "White Elephant", Matt Costello. Now, Uganda has its Jannon Otto. Seeing her on the floor among the Africans was the great contrast during the Fiba qualifications of the zone 5 for the women's Afrobasket. A competition that took place from 14 to 19 February in Uganda.
Jannon Otto tried to bring her experience to the Gazelles. Not tetanized by its first since she had just stepped on African soil a week earlier, she managed to leave an indelible mark. Otto has integrated perfectly into the Ugandan selection. Even if the Gazelles did not get the qualifying ticket for the World Cup 2023. They indeed lost to Egypt 74-65 in the final. Nevertheless, Otto was in the top 5 of the tournament.
"She gave the team a presence on the floor both in defense and offense. Most importantly, she made the Gazelles a true offensive threat," says assistant coach Mavita Ali.
"I can't wait to get back to the group"
Uganda may have lost its opening game to defending champion Kenya (53-61), but Otto sounded the revolt against Egypt in Game 2, scoring 27 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. With such versatility, she was definitely the Gazelles' ace in the hole. At the end of the qualifiers, Otto was scoring 18.3 points per game.
Not surprisingly, head coach Alberto Atuna let her finish most games. The 25-year-old American averaged 36 minutes out of a 40-minute basketball game. "I was warmly welcomed by the whole team. I can't wait to join the group again," said Jannon Otto, who plays for Musel Pikes in the Luxembourg league.
It will be soon as Uganda has received a wild-card to participate in the Women's Afrobasket in July.