We caught up with former Principia Men's Basketball alum, Adaku Anumu, as he details his journey from Principia College to playing professional basketball in Portugal. Although Adaku only played his junior and senior years at Principia, he undoubtedly left his mark on the Principia program. In his junior year, he set the D3 single-season scoring record for Principia College with 584 total points while averaging 25.4 points per game. As a captain in his senior season, he helped lead Principia to the SLIAC Tournament for the first time in over 10 seasons, as the Panthers enjoyed their best season since joining the SLIAC in 1989. Adaku was able to score over 1000 points in only two seasons of play (2015-17) and was able to finish up his degree in 2018 while training to play professional basketball.
What team are you playing for and where are they located?
I am playing in Portugal for a club called Portimonense. They are located in Portimão, which is the largest city in the Western Algarve of Portugal.
Did you have any other offers? What made you decide to play in Portugal for Portimonense?
I had some potential opportunities on some other teams before coming here, but I got those opportunities by making the first move. This team was different because they took initiative and gave a good offer. They thought I would be a good fit and we came to an agreement shortly after my arrival.
How is it going over there? How are you/the team playing?
It's going well here. I am extremely happy to be in such a competitive league for my rookie season, and our team is playing well, improving as the season moves along. It is still somewhat early in the season, but our chemistry has grown, and I have a lot of confidence in our team. This league so far has been very competitive, with no teams willing to give up an easy win, so we have to give our very best effort each game if we want to succeed. I am trying my best to learn from all my mistakes and fix up my weaknesses after each game. I am focusing on minimal turnovers and high field goal percentages to name a few.
What is the best part about playing basketball overseas?
One thing that comes to mind without question, is being one step closer to the goal I have had since 4th grade, which is to play basketball at the highest level (NBA). I love the game, so playing professionally is definitely living my dream, but I feel like I'm right in the midpoint of the process. As rejuvenating as it was to get the job here, it was also a wake-up call to raise the bar even higher. Not just for me and those who have been riding with me all along, but now also for this organization.
Probably the absolute best part about playing basketball overseas is just knowing that you are playing basketball for a group of people who truly believe in you. So much so, that they hire you to help bring success into their organization. It is a constant spark to give everything I've got to win games here. It means so much to me that I'm here, and I want to show these people every day that they made the right decision, and the only way to do that is to perform and produce every single game!
How did you get your name out there? Did you do any camps?
I got my name out there by spending thousands of dollars on camps, combines, and networking. When I first finished college basketball I was hungry for a job, but I didn't know anything about how to get one. All I had was confidence in my game, but no clue on how to get signed or anything like that. I got 2 letters in the mail, from two different combines. I went to both. One was $400 and the other was $525, which didn't include flights and transportation, accommodation or anything. That's basically where it started. I went to several events, learning a little more about the process at each one I went to. As I found out about more it got to the point where I couldn't afford all of them, so I had to do whatever research I could and try to guess what the best move was. Some organizations seemed much more credible than others. But I stored every tip, trick, contact, and last bit of information I could in that process, and now I feel I have a pretty good idea of how it all works.
We saw you training for a year on campus while coming back to school to get your degree. How much did that year help you?
Part of me would have preferred to have been able to get signed my first year after finishing college basketball. I tried to get a job on a team right away but did not get any offers. It worked out nicely though, because being only 2 semesters away from my degree, it was nice to finish that up. In addition to that, I got to expand my network quite a bit, and make some key connections.
I was also able to shoot 1000's of shots that year and stay on top of my workouts with coach Todd and the Athletic Department supporting me as I prepared for the tryouts that would follow come graduation. So overall, I'd say it was a good trade. I just need to make this season count for the one I had to take off last year.
What advice would you give to other Principia or other D3 players wanting to play professionally after college?
I would say if you want to play professionally after college, the opportunity is there. There are over 5,000 professional teams in the world, you just have to find out where you fit. I learned during my first summer job hunting when I was in Las Vegas, that it doesn't really matter all that much what level you played at. There were many former pros and Division 1 players at a lot of the combines I went to, and they were in the same boat as me..... they didn't have agents or offers either. What does matter is how you played at the level you were playing at.
I would also say to them that building a resume in college definitely helps. Treat your college team the same way as you would a professional team. Get rebounds, blocks, steals, shoot high percentages, limit turnovers, etc... Play your absolute best, because teams might want to look at your film if considering to hire you.
How did playing at Principia College help prepare you for playing basketball overseas?
For me, playing at Principia was everything. I did not have a ton of in-game experience before attending Principia. I played maybe 10 minutes per game at American River College as a freshman (I had been cut from that team the year before), and almost sat the bench at a Texas A&M International my entire sophomore year. Two years in, no stats, just confidence in my game, and the work I had put in. When Principia told me they felt they could really use me there was no question about where I would finish my college career. I used the shooting machine to make over 3000 shots per week my entire junior year and was finally able to develop and play my game. I remember shooting on the machine nightly trying to become one myself. If I could get my shot to 100% I would be unstoppable, I thought. I never got it there or shot 100% in a game, but that was always the goal: make everything, and make sure your team wins. I was never satisfied with my individual performance, and always going for that perfect game. That perfect game never happened, but a lot of good games came during the hunt for it. This prepared me a lot because I am still going after that perfect game every time I play out here, and the make your team win part goes without saying. Building chemistry with my teammates and learning to play together is as essential on my team here as it was at Principia. There were also many lessons learned on and off the court in my two seasons there that I will take with me everywhere I go while playing overseas. I experienced great humility during our 18 game slump after losing one of our best players when we were undefeated before losing him, and great heartbreak after our fight to become tournament champions in 2017 finally came to an end. I experienced some deep and powerful moments on those teams that I will never forget. The decision to drop everything and come play for a retired ABA vet that I had known for 10 years named Mike Bushong was one of the best decisions I ever made.
STORY COURTESY OF PRINCIPIA COLLEGE SPORTS INFORMATION