Terps Talking to Iranian Import

It's been an unusual path to high-major basketball recruiting for Arsalan Kazemi, one that, it seems safe to say, no other recruit in the country can claim.


Kazemi is a 6-foot-7 forward from Iran. He moved to the U.S. a year ago and enrolled at The Patterson School in North Carolina, but did not play last season. This summer, however, he traveled to several camps and tournaments, including his most impressive showing, with Houston Select at the Super 64.

Wrote Scout.com's Dave Telep: "Still looking a bit raw, Kazemi was impressive. His relentless, attacking style against a Seattle Rotary team featuring a handful of big time prospects, was noticeable. He made winning plays down the stretch and in overtime. At his core he was a worker with high-major potential.

"Basically, if you didn't see Kazemi in Vegas and only went on the Reebok evaluation, there's a chance he wasn't impressive enough for the high-majors in college hoops to step up with offers. Those who spent time with him later in the month tended to have a different take. Regardless, he's now on the map."

That map stretches across the country and includes several major college programs: Maryland, UCLA, Texas, Stanford, Missouri and Kansas are just a few of the schools monitoring his progress. Terps assistant Rob Ehsan has been the point man in his recruitment.

"He's half-Iranian. They call him ‘EE-sahn' but in Iran we say ‘AY-sahn,'" said Kazemi, laughing. "Coach Ehsan has told me a lot about Maryland."

Kazemi is regarded as smart and a team player who has a very good feel for the game.

"I play with my mentality, that's the thing I do best. I'm not the best dunker, the best shooter, the best point guard, but I play [smart]," he said.

He said he is concerned by the number of players in his size range who will likely be on the roster his freshman year; Landon Milbourne, Braxton Dupree, Dino Gregory, Cliff Tucker and Dave Neal are listed within an inch of his height.

"I don't know because they have four freshman that are the same height as me," he said, referring to Gregory, Tucker, Dupree and David Pearman. "So it's hard to go there and play."

Still, the Terps do have a need at his position. And two of the aforementioned players will be seniors when he is a freshman, while three others will be juniors. And Pearman is a walk-on. It's safe to assume all of the above will be expressed to him should the Terps choose to make him a top priority.

Kazemi would be the first Iranian-born player in the history of Division I basketball. He watched a good deal of American basketball in Iran; Tim Duncan is his favorite player, though he said he'll soon switch allegiances to fellow Iranian Hamed Haddadi. Haddadi, a 7-foot-2 center who led the all players at the summer Olympics in points and blocks, will be the first Iranian player in the NBA when he suits up for the Memphis Grizzlies this year.

The players here are better than those in Iran, he said, but that hasn't been the biggest surprise about American basketball.

"Really, the difference is the bodies. They are very strong. They have muscles on the first day of school," he said.

If Kazemi continues to progress and prove himself as a high-major prospect, it's likely he'll continue hearing from Maryland, which happens to have the first Korean-born Division I player in Jin Soo Kim.

"Coach Ehsan calls me twice a week," he said. "He is doing a good job."

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