Ademola Okulaja (born July 10, 1975) is a German former professional basketball player of Nigerian origin. The last team he played for were the Brose Baskets from Germany. After his playing career, he became an agent.
The 6' 9", 235 lb (2.06 m, 107 kg) forward received 172 caps for the German men's national team, serving as a team captain for many years and winning bronze at the 2002 World Championships. He played college basketball in the United States at North Carolina and flirted briefly with the NBA before moving on to a successful international professional basketball career in Europe.
The son of a German mother and a Nigerian father, Okulaja was born in Nigeria, but moved to Berlin with his family at the age of 3. In 1995, he graduated from John F. Kennedy School in Berlin, before enrolling at the University of North Carolina.
Okulaja played college basketball at North Carolina from 1995 to 1999. During the 1997-1998 NCAA season, he was a member of new coach Bill Guthridge's successful "six starters" rotation with Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Ed Cota, Shammond Williams and Makhtar N'Diaye. In his senior season, he was named MVP of the Tar Heels basketball team, and won a spot on the 1998-99 All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team. Okulaja was the first player in the history of UNC basketball who led the squad in scoring, rebounding, three-pointers made and steals.
Okulaja has played professionally for a variety of Euroleague teams, including ALBA Berlin in the 1994–1995 season winning the FIBA Korać Cup and again in 1999–2000 and later RheinEnergie Köln (2005–2006) in Germany; CB Girona (2000–2001 and 2003–04), Barcelona (2001–2002), Unicaja Malaga (2002–2003) and Pamesa Valencia (2004–2005) in Spain; and Benetton Treviso in Italy (2004). His ALBA Berlin team won the 1999-2000 German National (Bundesliga) championship. He won the "Rookie of the Year" award with Girona, and was an All-League First Team selection that year. In 2002, he won the award for "Most Spectacular Player" at the Spanish All-Star Game.
Okulaja had three different attempts to join the NBA; his first training camp experience was with the Philadelphia 76ers, then with the San Antonio Spurs, and finally the Utah Jazz, but was unable to make an NBA roster.
In 2008, he was diagnosed with a spinal tumor and had to go into a one-year long therapy. After it proved to be successful, Okulaja played one more season for the Brose Baskets.
On July 12, 2010, he announced his retirement from professional basketball.
German national team
Okulaja was also an experienced member of the Germany national basketball team and one of the key figures of the team, alongside Dirk Nowitzki or Patrick Femerling. He played with the team at the European Championships in 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001. He competed with the German National Team at the 2002 FIBA World Basketball Championship in the US, winning bronze, and in Japan at the 2006 FIBA World Basketball Championship.
He worked as analyst and color commentator at Sport1, a German sports channel.
Okulaja founded pro4pros, a sports consulting company, and then became director of the German office of Octagon, a sports and entertainment company.