Exclusive Interview: Anas Mahmoud talks Louisville career, NBA aspirations
KingFut interviews Egyptian basketball player Anas Mahmoud, who last played for Louisville university this season. In this exclusive interview he recapped his basketball life so far, and whether or not he will declare for the NBA draft.
Malek Shafei: When did you move to the United States? How was it adjusting to American life?
Anas Mahmoud: I moved to the U.S after graduating high school in Egypt, also right after participating with the senior national team as a 17-year-old in Afrobasket that summer. I have done a lot of traveling to Europe and other neighboring countries in Africa before coming to the States, so I think that helped me a lot in making that transition. I would be lying to you if I said that it was easy by any means, but there is no question that the help I got from my family back home and here in the states has helped me push through those tough times.
MS: Growing up, how was basketball in Egypt, did you play for a team?
AM: I started playing when I was 8-9 years old, and I think it was completely by luck. I had no knowledge of the game what so ever, all I knew back then is that they needed tall guys to try out for the team and I had nothing to kill my free time with, so I went with my parents to one of the biggest clubs in Egypt (Zamalek) and joined the basketball academy. It was only about a week in when one of the coaches who coached the under-12 team saw me play and asked me to come practice with his team as a 9-year-old and that he would love to help me.
I immediately accepted and would go on to spend the next two years without playing a single game because I was much younger than the age requirement. All I did was show up to practice, spend about an hour and half on the sidelines working on my dribbling and form, and maybe scrimmage with the team at the end and that was it. Two years later my coach left, and we got a new coach to whom I owe everything I have achieved since I was 11 years old. He taught me the game of basketball and helped me become one of the best in my age group, not just in Egypt but in Africa.
MS: You committed to play for Louisville in 2014, what made you want to play for the Cardinals and how was the whole recruiting process when you attended high school in Orlando?
AM: I had to take an extra year in high school in order to take the SAT’s and be able to play in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The recruiting process was one of the hardest things I had to go through in the States. Part of it was because I had no knowledge of how college basketball worked.
I did not know any of the teams, coaches, or players. I also had to go through the whole process in three months when everyone else takes about three years to weigh their options. But at the end of the day the reason I choose Louisville was because I saw the opportunity to play for a hall of fame coach [Rick Pitino] at the finest basketball program in the country.
MS: You didn’t play much in your first two seasons at The University of Louisville (UoFL). How did you develop during this time, especially under a great coach like Rick Pitino?
AM: The thing about my personality is that I’m a very deep thinker, when I was making my decision I knew what I was getting myself into with going with Louisville. Every coach has his own philosophy and Coach P’s was no secret: he did not trust freshman, it’s as simple as that. I knew that I will have to come in to compete every day to earn his trust, might take time, will definitely be hard, but I understood that before I came to campus and I was mentally ready for it. Coach P taught me so much the past four years, not just from basketball prospective but also how to successful in whatever life throws at me later on.
MS: During your time at UofL, there was the scandal that gained national attention, how did that affect you and the whole atmosphere at Louisville?
AM: There is no question that my four years at Louisville have been as eventful as it gets. Bad and good, I have enjoyed every moment of it and I want that to be remembered. Now, there was so much that has happened that I wish I could control no question, but those situations truly helped me evolve as a person even further.
MS: Because of the scandal, Louisville faced some consequences such as the departure of Pitino and suspension from the national tournaments. How did the team recover from this?
AM: The hardest thing you can ever do is wake up every day not knowing what is going on and what might be (coming) next. That is how it was for about couple weeks early this year. We lost our coach, we might be losing the rest of the staff, but nobody knows anything. We were already in trouble so that made it even harder. We don’t have a coach or an Athletic Director, didn’t even have a permanent president for the university.
All we know is all the false information on social media and that is it. The only thing we knew is that we still have basketball at least for the rest of the season, so we came together and decided that whatever the case maybe, we came here to play basketball and what is what we will do for the rest of the season. It would have done us no good if we started to cry about all the unfortunate events that has happened. We were lucky enough to get David Padgett as our coach, he did an absolutely great job to keep us together and help us block out all the noises and focus on the task in hand.
MS: In your junior and senior seasons you really seemed to blossom, having a breakout season and becoming a starter this past season and even earning a spot on the 2018 Atlantic Coast Conference All-Defensive Team. What do you credit your development to?
AM: I do not even know where to begin to answer this question, I remember all the times Coach Padgett sent me to the treadmill as a punishment for not blocking a shot or all those film sessions and talks I had with DP since my freshman year. I can even talk about how I came in at 184 lbs, and how much Coach G and doctor Fred helped me develop my body to where I am right now. I remember how many times I got killed guarding the older guys because I was too weak to do anything and how much that frustrated me and pushed me to work hard and get better. But to be honest, I credit all I have accomplish so far to my family. The amount of support I have gotten from them over the last five years have been incredible to say the least and I would not have made it this far without them lifting me up.
MS: Unfortunately your basketball career at UofL is now over. What’s next for you? Do you look to declare for the draft, play internationally, or move away from basketball after you graduate?
AM: That is the million dollar question. Basketball has been and will always remain my life, and there is no possible scenario where I see myself away from it. I have put so much time, sweat, and blood for the love of this game and there is no way I will stop anytime soon. I will put 150% through this summer’s draft campaign and go from there. But I will make sure to graduate this May as well because as we all know the ball will eventually stop bouncing and even though it not be anytime soon, I want to be ready take on life when that happens as well.
MS: Have you signed with an agent?
AM: Yes I signed with Leon Rose from CAA.
MS: Lastly, do you look to continue playing with the Egyptian National Basketball Team?
AM: Representing my country is something that I will always take pride in doing! There is no question in my mind that if my name is called I will be there to help my country. With that being said, I need to focus on the task in hand which is get ready for the draft. After that everything will workout I’m sure if it.
KingFut would like to thank Anas Mahmoud for his time. We wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors.
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