July 08, 2011
At this year's NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves shocked all but the most plugged-in NBA observers when they took Tanguy Ngombo(notes), a 21-year-old forward from Qatar, with one of the final picks in the second round. Most guys taken at that point in the draft never make it, but Ngombo still stood out as a selection from left field. He was either a diamond in the rough or someone who had been hidden for a reason.
Then, the next day, everyone found out he was 26 years old and should never have been eligible for the draft. Whoops!
While we're on the topic, sources say the Wolves expect a favorable ruling from the NBA office that they will be able to keep No. 57 pick Tanguy Nbombo despite a dispute over his age. Though information has come to light that Ngombo is 26 — and thus ineligible for the draft — sources say the Wolves have government documentation from multiple entities that Ngombo is, in fact, 21. The belief among some executives is that a team should not be punished if government documentation is inaccurate.
That ruling makes a lot of sense, although the Wolves probably should have been smart enough to realize there were conflicting accounts of Ngombo's age and gone to the NBA for a decision before the draft. The legitimacy of the selection never should have been an issue, because David Kahn and his team of scouts should have been smart enough to do their due diligence ahead of time.
Nevertheless, the Wolves will get to keep Ngombo's rights. Still, it's unlikely he'll ever become a valuable contributor, because most 26-year-old forwards who've never proven much in a legitimate foreign league don't turn out to be NBA-quality players. That's shocking, I know.
So let's all give hearty congratulations to Minnesota for holding on to Ngombo, because we're probably never going to hear anything about him again.