By: Rhett Lewis
The GPC Men’s Basketball team is off to a hot start. Already two-thirds of the way through their regular season, the Jaguars seem to have found their rhythm.
As of press time they are 18-4 overall and boast a 9-1 record in Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association conference play.
The Jaguars are also coming off a 16 game win streak dating back to November of last year which included multiple last second heroics as well as 40 point blow outs. Their 9-1 record in conference play puts them atop the conference standings and in prime position as the postseason quickly approaches.
Not bad considering the team is doing all of this without one of its most talented players.
Reigning GCAA Freshman of the Year Musa Abdul-Aleem is redshirting this season due to a stress fracture in his left foot. He cannot play in games, participate in practice, or travel with the team on the road. Not being able to compete with his teammates during games and practice has been the toughest part of the injury, “It hurts just to watch them play, you just want to get on [the court],” said Abdul-Aleem.
Even though it’s tough to watch from the stands he comes to every home game and takes his usual uncomfortable seat a few rows behind the GPC bench and wrenches through the game knowing that no matter how much he wants to he can’t help his brothers on the hardwood.
The future does look very promising for the 23-year-old Abdul-Aleem. The 6-foot-5 guard/forward averaged 14 points and 5 rebounds a game last season for GPC, which caught the eye of several major college basketball programs.
After official visits to a number of schools, Abdul-Aleem chose the University of South Florida over the University of Memphis. Abdul-Aleem sited USF’s proximity to family and the opportunity to play in the Big East Conference as reasons for choosing USF. Sitting out this season was another tough decision to make, but it does mean Abdul-Aleem will have three years of eligibility at USF whereas most junior college transfers have only two.
“It’s obviously a better move for me to have three years at South Florida and to get healthy. I’m not in a rush, I’m not pressured to get healthy, I’m pressured to perform at a level people expect me to perform at,” said Abdul-Aleem about his choice to redshirt.
Abdul-Aleem will be enrolling at the University of South Florida in the fall of 2012.
Although his playing time at GPC was shorter than he hoped it would be, Abdul-Aleem has enjoyed his time on campus, “I love this program. They did a lot for me and my family.” It should come as no surprise to anyone that knows Abdul-Aleem that he considers his father, Rashad Abdul-Aleem, his “trainer, coach, and friend.”
Recruiting expert Brad Winton of SLAM (a well respected online basketball site) expects Abdul-Aleem to compete for a starting spot immediately, “Abdul-Aleem is a physical, left-handed wing who bullies his way to the rim and has range that extends beyond the three. Abdul-Aleem was one of the best perimeter defenders that I saw this summer. He is very vocal on the court and plays with a passion for the game,” said Winton.
Abdul-Aleem plans to major in sports management or sports therapy and hopes to make a living in either the NBA or overseas playing basketball.