Utah State’s Neemias Queta could be the first player from Portgual to play in the NBA.
When you mention a Portuguese athlete, instantly the thought of Cristiano Ronaldo comes to mind. The international soccer star has helped Portugal win a European Championship and has led his club teams to five UEFA Champions League titles as well as earning hundreds of individual accolades.
However, Portugal has new a star on the rise in the world of basketball that looks to be destined to play in the NBA.
At age 17, Queta began playing for SL Benfica along with playing for the U20 Portuguese national team which helped him gather some attention from scouts in the United States.
Queta eventually made the move to the U.S to play for Utah State where he has been a dominant force in the Mountain West Conference over the past three seasons.
He was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2018-19 along with second team All-Conference after setting a school record with 84 blocks in one season. Queta also averaged 11.8 points per game along with 8.9 rebounds over 35 games.
During his sophomore year, Queta continued his dominance with 13 points per game along with 7.8 rebounds and was once again named second team All-Conference as well as being named to the All-Defensive team.
Through 18 games in 2020-21, Queta continues to impress with 12.4 points per game as well as 9.3 rebounds and 53 blocked shots and he still has eight regular season games remaining. He was also just named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award watch list for best centre in the NCAA.
Utah State is 13-5 on the season and could be in a position to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament even if they don’t win the Mountain West which could help Queta skyrocket up NBA draft boards.
His NBA player comparison would be somewhere in the range of Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors or Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s not quite as good offensively as Embiid but is defensively ahead of where Embiid was at the same age and his talent level and athleticism are comparable to where Siakam was as a college player at New Mexico State. Queta is much taller and longer than Siakam as well.
Regardless, Queta should find himself on an NBA roster should he declare for the 2021 draft.
Queta does have an impressive amount of Instagram followers for a college athlete with over 20,000 but that’s one area he may need some improvement to catch up to his countryman Ronaldo who has 258 million followers.