J. Cole makes pro basketball debut with Basketball Africa League

Cole put up three points, three rebounds and two assists Sunday as a shooting guard for the Rwanda Patriots.

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As his brand new album, The Off-Season, was getting critical and fan acclaim on social media, rapper J. Cole was in Rwanda making his debut playing with the Basketball Africa League. 

Cole put up three points, three rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes of play Sunday as a shooting guard for the Rwanda Patriots against Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers. The rap star played basketball in high school and remains a big fan of the game. He was a walk-on at St. John’s University, but he never officially played for the team. 

Rapper J. Cole performs at halftime during the 2019 NBA All-Star game in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Team Giannis faced Team LeBron as part of the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend at Spectrum Center. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

“Sports is where it started for me. It parallels my life,” he told Sports Illustrated in 2013. “Rap is such a competitive thing. That’s why I have to watch sports. I got to keep up. It’s my life in just another form.” 

This weekend, GQ declared “The Off-Season Is J. Cole’s Best Album.” Fans have been chiming in with reviews on social media as well. ESPN shared a photo of NBA players reacting to the new LP, with many calling it the “album of the year.” 

Former NBA baller Kendrick Perkins poked a little fun at the rapper’s first-game stats, tweeting, “Those Big Perk Numbers!!! I see @JColeNC.” 

Most fans, however, were supportive of the rap star. 

“J. Cole is out here playing professional basketball 2 days after dropping an album,” one wrote. “This is wild to me.” 

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Another 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.” 

The Off-Season album, which dropped on Friday, continues to get glowing reviews. The Twitter page of Hip Hop Facts wrote that “All tracks from J. Cole’s ‘The Off-Season’ are predicted to debut in the top 40 on the Hot 100. It would become the first album with more than 10 tracks in history to achieve this.”

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