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Persian Hoop Dreams
SI.com's Luke Winn profiles Rice's freshman forward Arsalan Kazemi, who in November became the first Iranian to play Division I men's basketball
Kazemi quietly made his mark on the history between the U.S. and Iran when Rice coach Ben Braun put the 6'7" freshman into the Owls' home opener against Sacramento State. There was 16:26 left in the first half, and Rice led 10--0. The scoreboard made no acknowledgement of the event, and the crowd of 1,631 was mostly silent. But looking on with cautious optimism was a handful of Kazemi's countrymen. One had walked up to Kazemi in the pregame layup line to tell him, "Best of luck in the game. The reason we are here is to support you." Arsalan is a Turkish name that means lion, and Kazemi can sometimes appear sleepy on the floor, his expression blank and his head lolling, before roaring to life with an aerial burst that nets him a rebound or dunk. He's also given to making a quick step into a passing lane for a steal. Kazemi has been playing 20.7 minutes per game off the bench and is leading the 4--4 Owls in rebounds with 7.1 a game; he's also their fifth-leading scorer, with 8.0 points per game.
Winn also takes a look at Kentucky's John Wall (above left) and the rise of the Wildcats, and he examines the play of West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler in the latest College Basketball Power Rankings at SI.com/cbb Plus ...
Seth Davis's Hoop Thoughts: Freshman Xavier Henry (right) is taking over in Kansas