Top Performer Profile: Mike Efevberha (aka ‘Money Mike’)

Throughout the season, will be producing profiles on some of the league’s Top Performers.

By Lauren Jones,

Drew League Team: Problems
High School: Ganesha High School
College: University of California at Irvine (UC Irvine), California State University Northridge (Cal State Northridge)
Currently: Lebanon
Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Size: 6’4”, 195 lbs.

According to the official voice of the Drew League, George the Announcer, “Money Mike has a barcode for fingertips.”

The talented guard is known for his speed and high-scoring percentage landing him a spot on the Drew League All-Star team that represented Los Angeles at the 2013 Nike Tournament of Champions (TOC) in New York City. He also recently signed a contract to play in Lebanon, where he will continue his long-standing career overseas.

He began playing in the Drew League four years ago as a senior at California State University Northridge (CSUN). Anxious to enter the 2007 NBA draft, Money Mike did not complete his senior year at CSUN. Anxious to enter the 2007 NBA draft as an undeveloped player coming from a mid-major school, he went undrafted but that same season he went on to play in the NBA Development League. His first opportunity to play overseas came at the end of his first season in the D-League, in New Zealand. Once he was able to showcase his scoring abilities and work ethic, Efevberha’s career took off overseas. To date, he has played in New Zealand, Nigeria, France, Switzerland, Russia and Czech Republic. Ultimately, his dream is to come back to the U.S. to play in the NBA before the end of his professional career.

Q: When did you first start playing basketball?
A: My dad was into education, so I didn’t really start playing until I was a freshman in high school.

Q: How did you get the nickname “Money Mike?”
A: The Announcer George started calling me Money Mike one day and he kept it going. It’s all thanks to him. I make a lot of shots at times and people say that I play a little bit like Kobe.

Q: How did you start playing in the Drew?
A: Robert Harris, a friend of the Game’s, saw me playing at CSUN in the open run all the time, so he asked me to come play on his team at the Drew. I played with Rob’s team for 2 or 3 years. I switched over to Problems this year because of Coach Mark, who has been a good friend. He’s been trying to get me to come play for them for a couple of years. I promised him last summer that I would come play for him.

Q: Where were you in your basketball career when you started playing in the Drew?
A: I was 24 years old when I started playing. I had just left CSUN and I was getting ready for the D-League draft. Just the competition level at the Drew so different than anywhere else I had played. I got to play against NBA players finally. Growing up in Pomona, we didn’t have much basketball like that, coming to the Drew League I got to see first hand professional players’ game and it just made me a better player.

Q: Why do you continue to play at the Drew League?
A: I love that they show me so much support, that’s why I show support right back. I have played for the past 4 or 5 seasons, whether it’s the whole season or a couple of games, I always come back. They’ve taken me places with them, it’s a great energy when you play here, and I have a lot of friends that play for Drew. It’s fun to come back home during the summer and see everybody after being gone for so long.

Q: What’s your advice to the young players at the Drew?
A: If they really want to make it, continue to work hard, I know it’s tough when you really need money. Don’t stop dreaming.

Q: If you could go back, what would you tell the 24-year old Money Mike?
A: I would’ve told that person to be more humble and coachable. Back then I was too big headed I guess and wouldn’t really listen and didn’t have the work ethic I have now.

Q: What was it like playing for the Nigerian national team?
A: They took me to Africa with them and we went to Libya, I was the team’s leading scorer at the tournament. I also got to see my family from my Dad’s side for the first time in my life. That was a great experience, definitely eye opening. I told my dad when I got back I already had the most respect for you but after seeing what you grew up in first hand it’s like you actually lived in these conditions. When I got back home it made me appreciate America. I got to meet my grandma for the first time, she ended up passing away last year, but at least I got the opportunity to actually meet her.

Q: Can you recall a time when basketball helped you through a difficult personal situation?
A: Growing up in high school, we didn’t have all the money in the world. The court was just somewhere where I could go and not think about anything. Whenever I had problems at home, arguing with my mom or sisters or dad or something I always had basketball to take my mind off things.

Q: What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
A: I like to cook and play poker.

Q: After your basketball career is over, what do you want to do?
A: I would love to build this Money Mike brand up and make some money off of that somehow and hopefully I’ll own a restaurant. Maybe I’ll become a basketball agent. I know to have a lot of money you have to have a lot of different sources coming in, so I’m willing to do whatever.

Lauren Jones is entering her senior year at USC majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Sports Media Studies. This is her second summer interning for the Drew League. Her career aspirations are to work as an esteemed sports journalist and eventually as a consultant for athletes in financial literacy, public relations and brand management. Her past experiences include interning for Yahoo! Sports, the Los Angeles Clippers, BET Network, EAG Sports Management, and Nike EYBL.