Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kazemi, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound combo forward from Iran who plays at The Patterson (N.C.) School, made a verbal commitment to Rice Friday during an official visit to the Houston school.
Kazemi’s commitment comes shortly after Egheosa Edomwonyi, a 6-7, 225-pound power forward from the Princeton (N.J.) Hun School, also chose to play for head coach Ben Braun. St. Benedict’s combo guard Tamir Jackson — who decommitted from UAB — and 6-5 Chicago wing Chris Eversley will also play at Rice.
Kazemi chose Rice over Seton Hall, which he visited officially last weekend, and Maryland, which he was slated to visit the weekend of Nov. 7.
Memphis, Colorado, Cincinnati, Western Kentucky and Virginia Tech also expressed interest in Kazemi, who is hoping to become the first Iranian to play American college ball.
“I notified Maryland and I notified Seton Hall,” said Anthony Ibrahim, Kazemi’s adviser who lives in Texas. “We canceled the visit to Maryland.
“The young man took the visit [to Rice] and he fell in love with the school and said they did a great job. They showed him they needed him bad. He loved the school, the campus. He liked the guys on the team and he said, ‘I want to be an Owl.'”
Kazemi is a bouncy, athletic, skilled combo forward who, since arriving here in February, has been courted by a number of Division I programs. He also holds a 4.0 GPA. He was not immediately available for comment Friday night because he was with the Rice players, Ibrahim said.
“I don’t know a lot of college basketball in America,” he said in a previous interview. “I have to go somewhere.”
Kazemi will now join a recruiting class that includes Edomwonyi and Jackson, a scoring guard who dropped 29 points on Brandon Jennings and Oak Hill last year. With such players, Kazemi can be a great glue guy who can also score.
“He’ll be the ultimate teammate,” Ibrahim said of Kazemi. “He’ll be worrying about the scoreboard. He wants his team to win. And he’s going to be a very good student and classmate, and a good human being. He’s going to make the difference.
“We don’t care about position or nothing. He’s going to be a student and a basketball player.”
Kazemi’s decision leaves Seton Hall without a recruit it had high hopes to land. St. Anthony wing Dominic Cheek also axed Seton Hall from his list. The Pirates next highest recruiting targets are 7-footer Jarrid Famousof Westchester Community College and Karron Johnson, a 6-7 power forward from Mount Zion (N.C.) Academy who may present some academic challenges in order to play college ball.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.