Somtochukwu “Somto” Cyril has no favorite player in the National Basketball Association. He doesn’t have a favorite NBA team. He just wants to win. A native of Enugu, Nigeria, the 6-10 center is only interested in his team, OTE’s City Reapers.

Cyril (32 in red)) had 13 points, 8 rebounds and a block during the victory over Hoops Nation Friday night at OTE Arena. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

On Friday night, day two of OTE’s second season in the bubble, OTE Arena, by Atlantic Station, Cyril was a force for the City Reapers who defeated visiting Hoop Nation, 74-71. During the game Cyril, who came to Atlanta from Hamilton Heights High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, scored 13 points on 5-6 shooting, made three of his four free throws, grabbed eight rebounds, and blocked a shot. A member of the class of 2023, Cyril is being highly recruited by some of the nations top programs, but his focus isa on this season, this opportunity with OTE. “I just want to win, the ultimate goal is for us to win and for me to get better as a player and also help my teammates to get better and put us in a better position to be a good team,” he said after the game. 

During the game Cyril played 16 minutes and could be seen constantly fighting for position under the rim or setting screens for teammates Amen Thompson and Jahki Howard, another newcomer to OTE. “I feel like I am doing what I wanted to do because I make stuff easier for my teammates, when I get in the game I bring the energy,” Cyril said.

Two days into his OTE career, Cyril has already played against internet sensations Bronny James and Cameron Boozer, and an assortment of high school All-Americans in front of celebrities. He was asked what he thinks of Atlanta? “I think it’s a pretty cool place, so far I like it,” he said. Cyril is still growing into his game and has to do it in front of sellout crowds – both days of OTE hoops were sold out, according to reps with the team. 

After the game Cyril took questions from reporters. His body language demonstrated that he was still getting used to the attention being paid to a player many expect to be drafted into the NBA when he becomes eligible in 2024. This experience at OTE, in Atlanta, and under the spotlight alongside other top prospects like the Thompson Twins (Ausar did not play in the game against Hoop Nation), Atlanta native and former Pace Academy star Bryson Tiller and Malik Bowman, is the next step in his basketball journey. 

Cyril does in fact have a favorite team, his own. “I’m trying to go undefeated this season,” Cyril said. “My goal is to win a championship.” 

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...