John Polanyi CI point guard, Ahmed Ali, sits in his school gym challenging his teammates Sal Man and Jonis Ahmed to a who’s-better banter contest.
He balks at Utah Jazz legend John Stockton being better than Oklahoma Thunder’s Russell Westbrook. His friends say he’s crazy. And then they bandy other names of bygone players about.
At one point Ali asks, “Was Karl Malone the real deal?”
The 19-year-old flashes a bright smile, emblematic of his BTB Prep coach, Adeel Sahibzada’s description of him: charismatic.
Ali’s vibrant energy, tenacity comes from his playful debate and discussion of players from Michael Jordan’s era, to the players of the LeBron James era.
But his real role model, and the man responsible for getting him into the game is his brother Yusuf Ali. The elder brother, who is four year older, played the same position — point guard — and was Ahmed’s idol.
“I kept watching him play basketball, when I was growing up,” Ali admits. “And I wanted to follow everything that he did, and I wanted to excel at it.”
Ali is the most recent Toronto player to score over 100 points in a high school game. He netted 103 in December against C.W. Jefferys. The only other player to do so in a high school game was Bathurst Heights alum, Denham Brown, who netted 111 in 2002 with West Hill. It’s serendipity, given Bathurst Heights is now known as John Polanyi.
For Ali, his Chamberlain-esque feat lit up social media, and caught the attention of Eastern Florida State’s coaching staff. The Melbourne, Fla. college reached out to Ali after the his performance.
But it’s not the only feat he has accomplished. Ali has also an international record under his belt. During a trip to France for the Tournoi Mondial de Basket with his Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association team, Bigger Than Basketball Prep, he managed a 22.6 points per game average. He was named the youngest player to ever lead the tournament in the stat. He also led the league with highest scoring game with 49 points.
He has even practised with Dwyane Wade’s trainer, Stanley Remy, and put up a strong fight against future Australian-born, Canadian-trained NBAer, Thon Maker.
The good news for Ahmed Ali is his hard work has earned him a full scholarship to Eastern Florida State in the fall. He knows his plans may get derailed, so he’s taking course to lay the foundation for being a nurse.
Ali’s BTB Prep coach, Sahibzada is ecstatic by his 6-foot-0 point guard’s success.
“He’s not your prototypical, traditional point guard, he plays very instinctual, and unpredictable,” he say. “It’s hard to coach a player like that. But it’s also very easy to coach a player like that because he needs a little more room to operate, and a little more freedom to make mistakes.”
Ali is more than just a point scorer, his coach adds, he’s a great teammate.
“They try to do all the metrics on Ahmed: they measure his height, his weight, but they all forget to measure his heart, tenaciousness, go-getterness,” Sahibzada says. “Unfortunately there are no metrics for that.”
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