Talib Zanna

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Talib Zanna
Talib Zanna Nanterre 92.jpg
Zanna with Nanterre, 2017
No. 42 – Montakit Fuenlabrada
PositionPower forward / Center
LeagueLiga ACB
Personal information
Born (1990-10-01) 1 October 1990 (age 28)
Kaduna, Nigeria
Listed height6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High schoolBishop McNamara
(Forestville, Maryland)
CollegePittsburgh (2009–2014)
NBA draft2014 / Undrafted
Playing career2014–present
Career history
2014–2016Oklahoma City Blue
2016–2017Nanterre 92
2017–2018Ironi Nes Ziona
Career highlights and awards

Talib Zanna (born 1 October 1990) is a Nigerian professional basketball player for Montakit Fuenlabrada of the Liga ACB. Zanna played high school basketball at Bishop McNamara High School and competed collegiately with the Pittsburgh Panthers men's basketball. He was ranked among the Panthers' school leaders in field goal percentage and earned various honors such as All-ACC Honorable Mention, ACC All-Tournament first team, and NIT Season Tip-Off All-Tournament team. Zanna primarily plays the power forward position.

Early life[edit]

Zanna was born in Kaduna, Nigeria to Zanna Awami and Maimuna Zanna. He was brought up with three brothers and two sisters. He began playing basketball at the age of 10 years because of a growth spurt and urging from his brother. Zanna ran mountains to improve his speed, fitness, and vertical leap. He was eventually discovered by American coaches in a camp run by ex-Georgetown player, Godwin Owinje, in Lagos. In 2006, he moved to the United States and moved in with a host family.[1][2] Upon arriving, he said the first few weeks were a disaster, as he struggled to communicate, did not understand the culture, and didn't like the taste of the food. Zanna called his father with the desire to return to Nigeria.[3]

Zanna's brother, a Nigerian doctor, contacted Bishop McNamara basketball head coach Marty Keithline and asked for Zanna to be given an opportunity to get an American education and to have the opportunity to play basketball.[2] He later visited South Africa for "Basketball Without Borders," with several other players, including Serge Ibaka, Dikembe Mutombo, Dirk Nowitzki and Luol Deng. Zanna said seeing an NBA player in person was a great experience. He also stated that it made him want to be in their position.[4]

High school career[edit]

Soon after arriving in the United States, Zanna attended Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland. As a sophomore in 2006–07, he missed 17 games with a broken foot but still averaged 10 points and 11 rebounds per game. He finished his sophomore season by posting 17 points and 15 rebounds against Paul VI Catholic High School in the WCAC Tournament quarter-finals. As a junior in 2007–08, he averaged 15.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.4 blocks, 1.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game as he earned All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference accolades. He was also marked one of the top candidates for All-MET honors.[5]

On 19 November 2008, Zanna signed a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball for the University of Pittsburgh.[6] He was also recruited by Boston College, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Providence, South Florida, Saint Joseph's, Villanova, and West Virginia.[7][8]

As a senior in 2008–09, Zanna averaged 14.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game as he was named first-team All-MET by the Washington Post and earned Independent private school all-league honors.[1]

College career[edit]

Zanna with Pittsburgh, 2013

As a freshman at Pittsburgh in 2009–10, Zanna managed just three minutes of action in the first game before a shoulder injury forced him to miss the entire season as he applied for a medical hardship waiver.[1]

As a redshirted freshman in 2010–11, Zanna appeared in 27 games with 13 starting assignments. Despite missing the last seven games of the season due to a broken right thumb, Zanna still earned co-Most Improved Player honors at end of season team banquet. On the season, he averaged 3.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.[1][9]

As a sophomore in 2011–12, Zanna appeared in all 39 games with 14 starting assignments. He registered three double-doubles, nine double figure scoring games and four double figure rebounding games, and at the end of season team banquet, he earned Best Defensive Player honors. On the season, he averaged 6.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.[1][9]

As a junior in 2012–13, Zanna started all 33 games at power forward as his minutes per game reached 23.9. He totaled three 20-point games, 14 double figure scoring games and four double figure rebounding games, and at the end of season team banquet, he earned the Coaches' Award. On the season, he averaged 9.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.[1][9]

As a senior in 2013–14, Zanna earned All-ACC honorable mention honors after averaging a career-best 13.0 points and 8.6 rebounds in 35 games (all starts).[9]

Professional career[edit]

Zanna during the 2016 NBA Summer League

After going undrafted in the 2014 NBA draft, Zanna joined the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2014 NBA Summer League. On 29 September 2014, he signed with the Thunder as he joined former Pitt teammate, Steven Adams, for the team's training camp.[10][11] Zanna appeared in all seven of Oklahoma City's preseason contests, averaging 4.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game before he was waived by the team on October 24, 2014.[12] He commented on his time with the Thunder, saying, "...this organization is like a family. Everyone is there for each other. Togetherness is really big in this organization."[4] On 4 November 2014, he was acquired by the Oklahoma City Blue as an affiliate player.[13] He made his debut on November 14 against the Maine Red Claws, contributing 17 points and 15 rebounds. Zanna recorded eight double-doubles in his first 13 games, including four straight to begin the season.[14] On 12 February 2015, he was named to the Futures All-Star team for the 2015 NBA D-League All-Star Game as a replacement for JaMychal Green.[15][16]

In July 2015, Zanna joined the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Orlando Summer League and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Las Vegas Summer League. On 25 September 2015, he signed with the Thunder, returning to the team's training camp for the second year in a row.[17] However, on 22 October, he was again waived by the Thunder after appearing in four preseason games.[18] On November 3, he returned with the Blue.[19]

In July 2016, Zanna joined the D-League Select for the 2016 NBA Summer League. On August 2, 2016, he signed with Nanterre 92 of the French League.[20] On April 26, 2017, Zanna and Nanterre parted ways one day after winning the FIBA Europe Cup title.[21]

On August 12, 2017, Zanna signed with the Israeli team Ironi Nes Ziona for the 2017–18 season.[22] On May 17, 2018, Zanna recorded a career-high 27 points, along with 12 rebounds and 3 steals in a 95–98 loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv.[23] Zanna helped Nes Ziona to reach the 2018 Israeli League Playoffs, where they eventually were eliminated by Maccabi Tel Aviv. In 37 games played during the 2017–18 season, Zanna averaged 13.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

On July 31, 2018, Zanna signed a one-year deal with the Spanish team Fuenlabrada.[24]

Nigerian national team[edit]

Zanna is a member of the Nigerian national basketball team. He made his first appearance for the side at the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualification at Mali.

Personal life[edit]

Zanna's father died not long after he committed to Pittsburgh. He touches a picture of his deceased father in his locker, saying a prayer for him before every game. He could speak English before moving to the United States and is fluent in four languages. Zanna is a devout Muslim.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Talib Zanna Bio". PittsburghPanthers.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Exchange student at McNamara High School says "American' family helped his achieve 'American dream'". Cathstan.org. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  3. ^ Crossman, Matt (28 October 2013). "Talib Zanna's journey goes far beyond basketball". SportsOnEarth.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b Baldwin, Michael (16 December 2014). "Oklahoma City Blue Q&A: Young Talib Zanna was inspired by 'NBA Without Borders' camp". NewsOK.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  5. ^ Quinn, James (23 December 2008). "Nigerian transfer leads McNamara". ESPN.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Men's Basketball Signs Four Student-Athletes to a National Letter of Intent". PittsburghPanthers.com. 19 November 2008. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Talib Zanna". Rivals.com. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  8. ^ "2009 Pittsburgh Basketball Commitment List". Rivals.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d "Talib Zanna Stats". Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  10. ^ "OKC Thunder training camp: Michael Jenkins, Richard Soloman, Lance Thomas, Talib Zanna added to roster". InsideHoops.com. 29 September 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  11. ^ Gertz, Stephen (26 October 2014). "Talib Zanna waived by Oklahoma City Thunder after reuniting briefly with former Pitt center Steven Adams". CardiacHill.com. Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Thunder Waives Jenkins, Solomon and Zanna". NBA.com. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Oklahoma City Blue Announces Training Camp Roster". NBA.com. 4 November 2014. Archived from the original on 6 November 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Talib Zanna Game Logs". RealGM.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  15. ^ "Thirteen NBA Veterans Headline Rosters for NBA Development League All-Star Game Presented by Kumho Tire". NBA.com. February 15, 2015. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  16. ^ "Four Replacements Announced for NBA Development League All-Star Game". OurSportsCentral.com. 12 February 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Thunder Adds Stone, Wells and Zanna to Training Camp Roster". NBA.com. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  18. ^ "Thunder Waives Qualls, Stone, Wells and Zanna". NBA.com. October 22, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  19. ^ "Oklahoma City Blue Announces Training Camp Roster". NBA.com. November 3, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  20. ^ "Nanterre adds Talib Zanna". Eurobasket.com. August 2, 2016. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  21. ^ Talib Zanna, Nanterre 92 part ways
  22. ^ "Zanna signed with Nes Ziona". basket.co.il (in Hebrew). August 12, 2017. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  23. ^ "Winner League, Game 32: M. Tel-Aviv Vs Nes Ziona". basket.co.il. May 17, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  24. ^ "Talib Zanna signs with Fuenlabrada". Sportando.basketball. July 31, 2018. Retrieved July 31, 2018.

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