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The Torch

Ahmed Improving in His Senior Season

Men's basketball senior Bashir Ahmed is in great form for the Red Storm

Torch+Photo%2FNick+Bello
Torch Photo/Nick Bello

Torch Photo/Nick Bello

Torch Photo/Nick Bello

Brendan Myers, Assistant Sports Editor

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It’s all come full circle for Bashir Ahmed.

Growing up in the Bronx, he would head downtown Madison Square Garden and  watch the Red Storm. Partly because he wanted to watch the game, but also  because he wanted his hometown team to recruit him.

When it didn’t happen, Ahmed chose to attend Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, where he would grow into the second ranked player in junior college before eventually committing to his hometown team.

“It means so much to play in front of my friends and family here,” Ahmed said before Saturday’s dominating win over Sacred Heart.

Last year in his first season with the team, he saw early success. Ahmed started all 33 games for the team, finishing first in rebounding and  third in scoring. After one season in Queens, Ahmed decided to test draft waters to get feedback from NBA scouts on what he needed to improve upon.

“Overall, it just motivated me and told me that I really needed to get into the gym and work on my game,” he said.

Eight  games into the season, the offseason work has shown for Ahmed. He’s playing fewer  minutes, but he’s also playing far more efficiently.  His field goal percentage is up from the high 30’s to 42 percent. In 33 games last season, he totaled 18 steals. This year, he’s already racked up 10 through eight games.

A lot of the hype that surrounded the Red Storm in the offseason had to do with the return of the electric backcourt comprised of  Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett and exciting transfers Justin Simon and Marvin Clark II, leading Ahmed to fall under the radar. It will be tough for the team to have success if Ahmed is struggling.

His varied skillset can have defenses reeling when he’s on his game. One thing that Ahmed has mastered is how to use his frame. At 6 foot 7 and 210 pounds, he  often bullies opponents into the post.

When he catches the ball at the top of the key, he’s able to pull up for a jump shot, or blow by them with his long strides. Last year, Ahmed would get in trouble when trying to do too much for the team. After beating one defender, he would often find himself clattering into a second defender, getting himself into quick foul trouble.

“Bashir was able to watch film of himself this offseason and I think that really helped,” Head Coach Chris Mullin said. “Some of the stuff he was doing, he needed to see for himself.”

Ahmed is also one of only two seniors on the team, along with forward Amar Alibegovic. Leadership is one aspect where he thinks that he has improved the most.

“I’m just doing whatever the coaches ask, whether it’s picking the team up, or just being a vocal leader,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed’s journey took him over 1,400 miles away to the Great Plains. Now, he’s playing only 16 miles away from home in his final year of eligibility. He could be a key factor for St. John’s heading into conference play.

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Ahmed Improving in His Senior Season