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‘This Rollout Is a 10/10’: J. Cole Makes Surprising Move to Rwanda to Play Basketball Ahead of New Album

A move that has many fans highly intrigued, rapper J. Cole has signed a basketball deal with the Basketball Africa League, The Athletic’s Shams Charania recently announced. The news comes as the Grammy award winner recently released a documentary and is less than a week away from his highly anticipated studio sixth studio album “The Off-Season.”

In a statement posted to Twitter on Monday, May 10, Charania wrote, “Sources: American rap star J. Cole is signing a deal in the Basketball Africa League with Rwanda’s Patriots B.B.C.” He added, “J. Cole will play 3-to-6 games, the first of which on Sunday vs. Nigeria.”

CHARLOTTE, NC – FEBRUARY 17: J. Cole performs at halftime during the 68th NBA All-Star Game at Spectrum Center on February 17, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

ESPN reported that the “Born Sinner” emcee, whose real name is Jermaine Lamarr Cole, arrived in Rwanda over the weekend in the midst of quarantining in order to play in the 12-team league. The BAL was created by the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to bring more awareness to the continent of Africa and its burgeoning basketball scene.   

The 36-year-old has seen his fair share of court time. He starred at Stanford High School in his hometown of North Carolina and was a walk-on at St. John’s University. The rapper ultimately turned to music before ever getting the chance to play in a Division I game. He has even showcased his talent elsewhere, including the 2016 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. The rapper is scheduled to play in his first game on Sunday, May 16, against the Nigeria Rivers Hoopers airing at 7 a.m. Sunday on ESPNews. Cole will play a minimum of three games for the team. 

The BAL is set to begin its inaugural season with 12 teams from different countries looking to prove themselves the best in the continent. The tournament will take place in Rwanda to limit travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the news about Cole’s overseas hooping debut isn’t set to become official until Thursday, May 13, that hasn’t stopped fans on social media from voicing their opinions on the rapper’s latest move. 

One Twitter user wrote, “This J. Cole album rollout is a 10/10.” They added, “Documentary dropping today, album on Friday, playing professional hoops on Sunday. A1 execution.”

Another user commented, “J Cole out here dropping albums and playing professional basketball in Africa at 36 and I’m over here with Netflix asking me if I wanna keep watching.”

“I thought it was the off-season??” expressed a third. 

J. Cole joins Harlem rapper Sheck Wes as the latest rapper to join an overseas basketball team. After getting overlooked in the 2020 NBA draft, Sheck took his talents to France with the Paris Basketball team. 

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