By Laura Amato
Bashir Ahmed wanted to come home to play basketball. That, however, was easier said than done.
The St. John’s junior—a Bronx native who made a name for himself at John F. Kennedy High School—took a long and winding road to get back to the city, but now that he’s here, he is determined to do his hometown proud.
“I feel very honored to represent my city,” Ahmed said. “It’s like a dream come true for me.”
Ahmed was a top-tier recruit coming out of high school and he planned to take his game to Iona College after wrapping up his prep career at The Robinson School in Bayonne, N.J.
Academic issues, however, set Ahmed on a different course—one that had him crisscrossing around the country.
Since leaving New Jersey, Ahmed spent time in North Carolina and, most recently, wrapped up his second season at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.
It was a place he never expected to be—Kansas is, after all, just a bit different than the Bronx—but Ahmed flourished with the JUCO squad. He averaged 20.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists last winter, earning Jayhawk Conference Player of the Year honors and First Team All-American accolades.
That success has left him wanting more in Queens.
“I’m very excited. Going through JUCO just made me hungry,” Ahmed said. “It made me want it more. And now that I’m here, I’m just going to work hard and hopefully looking to help this team win some games.”
Ahmed is a bit of a do-it-all player and the kind of physical, aggressive addition the Red Storm need this season.
St. John’s won just one Big East game last year and while the Red Storm are more confident with a year under their collective belt, the squad also needs a bit of vocal leadership on and off the court.
Ahmed is certain he can be that leader.
“I feel like I fit in and I feel like we’re all on the same page. We’re hungry,” he said. “And last year they had a lot of freshman, not a lot of experience, and they were rebuilding. But I feel like having a year under their belt, they have more experience and we’ve been working hard together and everything.”
Ahmed also had interest from Cincinnati, Louisville and Rutgers, but felt like there was a very tangible pull to St. John’s.
He had a long-standing relationship with assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih—who recruited Ahmed during his Iowa State days—and the desire to play close to home was simply too much to deny. It was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect fit.
“It’s back home and my family gets a chance to come support me,” Ahmed said. “I always been a big fan of St. John’s. So I’m very honored to be here.”
Ahmed admitted he got chills when he stepped onto the court at Madison Square Garden for Big East Media Day Oct. 11. This was the moment he’d been waiting for and while things didn’t always go according to plan, Ahmed wouldn’t change his road for anything—not when it, eventually, led him back home.
“I feel like I bring a lot of energy on the floor,” Ahmed said. “I play both ends of the floor and I feel like I’m a good team player. I’m just going to give it my all every day and work hard.”