Aside from being 7-2 and 285 pounds, Manhattan College men’s basketball coach Steve Masiello loves three things most about junior center Ahmed Ismail.
“There’s a lot of things he needs to work on,” said the Jaspers sixth-year coach. “But I think those things are a little easier to get than maybe his motor, and his hands and his feet. Those God-given gifts he has, they’re terrific. And I think that’s what separates him.”
As does Ismail being from Egypt, where he began playing basketball only five years ago. In America two years, he played the last two seasons at Colby Community College in Kansas, averaging 8.3 points, six rebounds and one block as a sophomore.
“I have everything,” Ismail said. “I can do a little bit of everything.”
Ismail must improve his basketball IQ and adjust to the game’s speed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Masiello says.
“Not too many big men can run the court,” Ismail said. “I have this option. I can run the court very well. I can shoot the ball. I have a good post game. I can play one-on-one.”
Playing for a program with three straight MAAC championship game appearances that’s a year removed from back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths, “I’m looking to make it to the NBA in the next three years,” Ismail said.
“I love guys that have the conviction and confidence to talk about their passion and their dreams,” said Masiello of Ismail’s lofty aspirations.
“I try to watch movies, listen to music to develop my English,” said Ismail, who most misses “Egyptian food and my family.”
Hailing from Cairo, Egypt’s capital and largest city with over 10 million people, Ismail is adapting well to Manhattan.
“I like it because it’s similar to Egypt, similar to where I grew up,” Ismail said. Watching the NBA back home, he became a fan of Shaquille O’Neal.
Calling Ismail a rare big man that slid under the recruiting radar, “I think he’s a guy that can really have a huge impact,” Masiello said.