It’s been a remarkable two years for Corduff teenager Ryan Djoussa, who has been named in the 12-man Ireland Under-16 panel for the European Championships in Podgorica, Montenegro in August.
The Blakestown Community School student only took up basketball at the age of 14 but has risen to become one of the top 12 players in his age group in a very short period of time.
Standing six feet eight inches tall, Djoussa was always going to have a chance in basketball, though he admits he was surprised by the skill level required when he made the move from football.
Djoussa had been a talented member of one of schoolboy football’s up-and-coming sides, Corduff FC, with whom he played for seven years from seven to 14.
When his Corduff team won their Under-15 league in 2017, Djoussa had already decided that his future lay in basketball and that he needed to dedicated himself fully to it.
He’d tried out rugby and karate, and then football, before joining Ongar Chasers in a sport in which his height is an asset but far from all he will need to realise his dream of playing in the NBA.
“I played football for seven years and I really loved the sport,” Djoussa tells the Dublin Gazette.
“With basketball, I didn’t really like the sport but when I tried out for the team I was really interested in it.
“I started to play a lot more and train and train, and after we won the league in football I decided to concentrate more on basketball and hopefully get far.
“When I got into basketball I was athletic, but I lacked skills and technical stuff. I’m starting to build that up.
“I was 14 when I started and it wasn’t my sport so I wasn’t as good as other people. Now I’m 16 and I’m in the top 12 for my age in my country.”
Djoussa, who plays as a power forward and a centre, cites Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant and the Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee Bucks as his favourite players in the NBA.
He’s determined to follow in the footsteps of Clondalkin’s Aidan Harris Igiehon (now of the Louisville Cardinals) by going to high school and college in North America on a basketball scholarship.
“I’m planning to go to America. In a few years, I hope to see myself in the NBA. I feel like when I play with better players, I get better.
“I went to Spain for three months, from February to May, and they were all older and better, so I was getting better just by playing with them every day.”
Djoussa’s mother and father are a major influence in his life and he reveals his hunger to make it as a professional is, in part, to pay back his parents for the sacrifices they’ve made for him.
“I basically want to succeed for my parents. They’ve done a lot for me. They’ve suffered a lot for me as well.
“My dad takes a lot of time out to help me with my sports. He pays a lot, he helps me to travel – he takes care of me.”