- Basketball. The guard’s drive, defence, shooting and passing has - in tandem with his big occasion temperament – greatly improved, although the typically hungry Jimmy believes he still needs to work on his floater and overall game execution.
He has consistently grown from the boy that debuted in the National Basketball League (NBL) with Knight Riders in 2007; that raw UCU Canons nightmare that hypnotised defences as he attacked the paint.
Jimmy Enabu’s game temperament and ball handling skills were soon to attract Power, with whom he lifted his first national league title in 2011. He would later be snatched by the next best thing in town – the City Oilers.
From then on, in 2013, Jimmy – brother to six other basketball Enabus – went on to win four successive national titles and clinch the Zone V gong twice. He has also played at two AfroBasket Championships and as many Africa Championship Cups.
Jimmy quickly dismisses talk that they are invincible, especially at home. “We still have tough times,” he says, “We work hard. We would be bored if it was only down to the league. We are playing at the international level. That keeps renewing the hunger.”
The big stage
Along the way he has risen meteorically, his stock so much high that Oilers and national team coach Mandy Juruni named him club captain.
Jimmy is just back home with the national team, Silverbacks, from Bamako, Mali where he - alongside Robinson Odoch, averaged 18 points and 21 respectively in three World Cup qualification games.
His drive, defence, shooting and passing has, in tandem, improved with his big occasion temperament, although Jimmy believes he still needs to work on his floater.
But the guard, 29, is generally happy with the direction Ugandan basketball is taking. “In 2015 (debut AfroBasket) we were thoroughly beaten,” he says.
“But since then we have continuously improved both at club and country. We have consistently closed those gaps. We are learning from them and applying.
“Personally, and as a team, all we need is poise; the execution. We lacked that against Nigeria and Mali and it killed us. Against Rwanda, we closed that gap.
“We keep improving and I strongly believe we shall do great things in the second leg in Nigeria.”
Jimmy is efficient both as a point and shooting guard, allowing coach Juruni to deploy him in different roles for club and country depending the team’s needs.
But just who does this supremely talented basketball player attribute his success to? “Many people, really,” he states, “Ivan (Enabu, elder brother) was really the closest to me in terms of playing basketball.
“Then Ken (Balyejusa) was a big inspiration. And for Steve Omony, man! For one year I’ve played with him at club and country, what a man! His approach, his mindset, the way he carries himself, he is a pure pro.
Brothers at ‘war’
“My family has really been behind me, they follow and push me.” Jimmy hails from a basketball family that reads Maurice, Denis, Mark, Ivan, Emmanuel and their sister Evelyn – all superstars on court.
But it is Ivan that Jimmy is fond of most on court. The two played together at UCU Canons before they later went separate ways, the Ivan joining Warriors and Jimmy Power.
“With my siblings, we push and support each other but we are also competitive.” That competitiveness was witnessed in full colour at the 2011 National Basketball League (NBL) finals.
The finals pitted Ivan’s Warriors against Jimmy’s Power – at the time heavily fuelled by the impeccable Isaac Afridra and Ben Komakech.
Warriors went on to surrender a 2-0 lead as they lost three games on the trot. They did manage to level the seven-game series at 3-3 but Afidra took over the decisive Game Seven as Power literally powered home to the title 99-97.
By far the most entertaining player in the country at the time, a hurting Ivan sat at YMCA motionless and inconsolable, unsure of the next step.
“He had not won his first title, and it was my first. He was hurt but he was also happy for me,” says Jimmy.
Interestingly, Jimmy and Ivan lived in the same house in Entebbe and would travel together to Kampala for games.
“It was a healthy atmosphere. We kept getting one over each other n court but we never even discussed the series.”
Yet Jimmy is not lost on that person that has influenced his career from one point to another.
“Like I said, there are many people but I will give Hajji a lot of credit.” Hajji Mohamed Santur is the City Oilers team manager. Jimmy was just from a meeting with Hajji when we sat down for this interview.
“The team pushes me but Hajji refuels my reason to keep improving. I meet with him often, he shares his vision of how he wants the team to play. He is behind me 100 per cent.”
The list of people that have impacted Jimmy’s career is incomplete without his coach, Juruni.
“As a coach, he is great. As a man, he is the ultimate guy and relates well with all of us.”
Having taken to playing the game in S.1 at Kabojja, Jimmy had a stint at Knight Riders before joining UCU, from where he graduated with a degree in Development Studies in 2010, the same year he turned out for the Canons.
But he was to exasperate the university side when he crossed to Power the following year before a rather more financially healthy City Oilers snapped him in 2013.
Clearly, Jimmy is not short on big dreams. “Winning AfroBasket, ideally, would be success to me, and you can call me crazy, I think we are capable.”
Jimmy’s rise has prompted some in the sport to mention him amongst the all-time greats like Vincent Chatti, Norman Blick, Stephen Omwony, Robert Ndamagye and Henry Malinga.
“It feels great to be recognized but I’ve honestly worked hard, put in extra hours, and to be mentioned among the all-time greats for me is an honour, a bonus.” Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is that professional Jimmy modeled his game on.
Zone V basketball World Cup qualifiers results
Uganda 86-102 Nigeria
Uganda 76-79 Mali
Uganda 79-63 Rwanda
June 29, 2018: Nigeria vs. Uganda
June 30, 2018: Uganda vs. Mali
July 1, 2018: Rwanda vs. Uganda
League title with DMark Power
MVP at UCU Invitational (pre-season tourney)
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016: National Basketball League champion
2016, 2017: Zone V champion
2015, 2017: Played at AfroBasket
2016, 2017: Played at Africa Championship Cup
2007-09: Knight Riders
Current club: City Oilers
Jimmy’s all-time TOP 10 (those he watched, in no particular order)