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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.
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Monday / January 21.
  • Kazemi Has American Hoop Dreams

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    Arsalan Kazemi is a 6-foot-7, 190-pound native of Iran who hopes to becomes the first man from his country to earn a college scholarship in America.

    Kazemi is currently enrolled at The Patterson School in North Carolina, where he says he does nothing but study and play basketball. He holds close to a 4.0 GPA.

    “I like the school,” he said Thursday in a phone interview. “It’s just for basketball and studying and nothing. It’s good for me.”

    Still, he misses his family, which remains half a world away.

    “Yes, it’s very hard,” he said. “I didn’t visit them in eight months now, so it’s going to be hard. It’s kind of good for me, and probably good for them.”

    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 hopes to commit by the November early signing period, yet he confesses he knows little about American schools.

    “I don’t know a lot of college basketball in America,” he said. “I have to go somewhere.”

    Anthony Ibrahim, a native of Lebanon who served as the color analyst for NBA broadcasts on the Arabic network Al-Hurra, has known Kazemi since 2007 and now advises him.

    Ibrahim first met Kazemi at the West Asian Games in Tehran in 2007 during an Under-17 game between Iran and Syria.

    “Arsalan was on a 2-on-1 fastbreak,” Ibrahim told, “and I still can’t believe what he did. The guard threw the ball high on the right side — not in the right position — and Arsalan jumped from outside the block, caught it and dunked it. His hand is reaching high up on the backboard, and his hips are up on shoulders of the guy guarding him. It’s a great picture.”

    These days, Ibrahim spends much of his time handling phonecalls from coaches interested in Kazemi.

    “Standford, Louisville, Seton Hall, Maryland, Rice, Syracuse, UConn, Rutgers, St. John’s, Oklahoma State, Missouri, they’re all recruiting him,” Ibrahim said by phone, adding that Chris Casey and Kimani Young of St. John’s, and Jimmy Carr from Rutgers “call me almost on a daily basis.”

    Among that group, Kazemi has only had visits at Patterson with Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and Maryland coach Gary Williams.

    “We like Seton Hall a lot,” Abrahim said. “I’m interested but the door is still open for the ones that we have talked to and been recruiting us for a while. It’s a good situation. I like (assistant coach) Scott Adubato. He’s got that experience of the NBA and the college level. He knows how to develop guys and what it takes to get to the next level.

    “I don’t know Gonzalez that much but I know Scott.”

    Said Kazemi: “They like me a lot. That’s why I like them. Coach Gonzalez is very cool. And Coach Adubato.”

    Asked what else he knew about Seton Hall, Kazemi laughed and said: “I watch a lot of movies. It’s New York, a lot of tall buildings. I think I like New York.”

    Patterson head coach Chris Chaney also said Maryland is heavily in the mix and that Kazemi liked that school as well. He said that Kazemi might visit Seton Hall Oct. 10 and Maryland Oct. 17 for Midnight Madness, but Ibrahim said no official visits have been set.

    “No concrete dates have been set yet,” he said.

    Said Kazemi: “Yeah, I can visit Seton Hall for sure and probably Maryland, too.”

    Ibrahim is waiting on Tuesday’s home visit with Rice coach Ben Braun.

    “Ben Braun is close to a Hall of Famer,” he said. “He intrigues me. I want to see what he has to offer and what he has to say, how they are going to develop and how they are going to use him.”

    Ibrahim said Kazemi will take the SAT on Oct. 4 and then take “two-three visits.”

    “He can bring international experience,” Ibrahim said. “He can be the best teammate, bring the best attitude. And he has a very high level of basketball. He’s all about team.

    “Talk about a kid that plays so hard, he’s going to make his teammates go into the gym and make them go play. And he’s a great human being.”

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    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.