Oscar winner Mahershala Ali played college hoops at Saint Mary's | Zagsblog
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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 / September 16.
  • Oscar winner Mahershala Ali played college hoops at Saint Mary’s

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    Before he won an Oscar for co-starring in the Oscar-winning film “Green Book,” and before he co-starred in the revitalized Season 3 of “True Detective,” Mahershala Ali played Division 1 basketball.

    According to Sports Illustrated, he is the first former D-1 player to win an Oscar. Ali won Best Supporting Actor on Sunday night.

    Then known as Mahershala Gilmore, or Hershal Gilmore, he played at Saint Mary’s from 1992-96, where he averaged 7.0 points and 1.8 rebounds as a senior. He converted to Islam in 2000, thus the name change.

    Ali told GQ he never thought about a potential pro career and simply wanted a scholarship to college.

    “It was about getting a basketball scholarship to a Division I school. Once I got that, I didn’t set a realistic next goal on how to get to the NBA, which is perhaps for the best,” Ali told GQ in August. “I fell into acting. A teacher gave me an opportunity to be in a play and it came a little easy to me. When it got difficult was when I decided to study acting and I went to grad school. I felt like if I got [into NYU] this was what I was supposed to pursue. It just so happened that it worked out.”

    (Via SI and SB Nation; Photo via Getty Images)

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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.