Saturday, February 6, 2016

'Mo Opportunity In South Florida For Israel-bred Sharpshooter


Growing up in Israel, Mohamed Abuarisha was enamored with the rapid rise of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball program. 

The more the basketball seed began to grow in Israel, the more and more intrigued Abuarisha became.

 Still, it wasn't enough.

Exasperated by a lack of opportunity given to players of his skill-set, he hungered for more hoops where soccer was the favored pastime.

 It wasn't until the young man started watching the NBA, however, that his love for playing the game (and playing the game at the highest possible level of competition) blossomed.

 For Abuarisha, the true draws of the NBA  was the unrivaled competition, the souped-up tempo, and the above-the-rim game.

The fact that this was the world's elite stage, the fact that the NBA featured a veritable "who's who" of the world's elite had potent resonance with Abuarisha.

As he perused highlight reels and dissected NBA film religiously, he took critical notes that helped shape him as a player. 

 Abuarisha realized that the biggest athletes on the floor were moving just as fast as the guards. 

 He understood that you simply cannot simulate the athleticism of the NBA's top-shelf players anywhere else on the planet.

  Abuarisha witnessed the deadeye, quick-strike shooting of Steph Curry, wowed by a blink-quick 0.2 second shot release.

 He took note of the consistent presence of the pick-and-roll, mastered by Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.

 "I thought to myself, 'one day I should aspire to get to this level," Abuarisha said. "That would be my dream. To play in the NBA."

 As he continued to discover the niceties of the NBA game, Abuarisha grew in height. He grew in talent.

 He grew in IQ and in his own shot range, taking a few steps back beyond the three-point line. 

Before he knew it, Abuarisha had emerged into a rare matchup problem which few defenders in his age group could counter.

 He grew in character, in the classroom, and in the leadership category. 

 It has all led to Abuarisha's arrival at Elev8 Prep in Delray Beach, Fla. 

At Elev8, Abuarisha's squad places emphasis on being interchangeable and adapting to multiple positions on the floor. 

Employing multi-layered readiness, being capable of guarding different positions is a critical ingredient of the system.

 Now at 6-foot-7, the class of 2016 guard is buoyed by deft 3-point shooting. 

 While plenty capable of extending his shot well beyond the arc, it's Abuarisha's shooting percentage and ability to seize open space and knock down shots that's rendered him a Division-I recruit.

 "What stands out about Mohammed is his skill-set," said teammate Levi Cook, a 6-foot-10, 284-pound gargantuan Center who is also a high-major recruit.

 "He hits open shots, he's very athletic for a two-guard and he's only getting better. His height and length really separate him as a player, because he can shoot it from deep and spread out the floor and take bigger defenders away from the basket. That's all really important at the next level."

 And where will that next level be?

 Texas Tech and Hofstra have both been front runners in the recruitment of Abuarisha, who Miami area strength and conditioning guru Tony Falce describes as "one of the hardest working and coachable kids I've had in quite some time."

 Falce works diligently with Chris "Birdman" Andersen and high-rising Tyler Johnson of the Miami Heat, so earning plaudits from the master trainer certainly doesn't hurt.

 Richmond and Utah State have also heaped an offer on Abuarisha.

 Georgia Tech and most recently Texas Christian have expressed interest. 

Abuarisha's stock exploded following a notable performance in the NBA Top 100 camp, a high-caliber event which attracts coaches from all across the world.

 Abuarisha came to America with his sights set on a scholarship. Now, as the focal point of Elev8's offense under Shane Maynard, he appears to be inching closer to his dream.

 "I have a lot of respect for Mo and Rom," said Ganon Baker, Elev8's president and NBA skill development coach.

 "To be so far from home in a different country and different culture and adjust the way they have, it is truly commendable. Both players have grown as young men being here. They're both excellent workers both on the floor, in the gym, and in the classroom. I'm very proud of both."

 Abuarisha's basketball IQ and natural feel for the game has grown since being at Elev8. 

 Taking advantage of opportunities he never could have even depicted Israel has certainly accelerated his production. 

In his homeland, there are no school teams. The game is only played at the club level. 

 Now with Elev8, he plays a national schedule and embraces new challenges as a multi-layered guard with a newfound knack for creating.

 "He sees the play before it unfolds," said Shane Maynard, Abuarisha's coach at Elev8.

 "The main thing for his improvement is just getting stronger, packing some muscle on. Getting used to the speed of the game. Footwork, as well. Putting the ball on the floor, embracing contact and trying to get to the free throw line more by attacking the rim."

 Should he master those concepts, he'll be ready made for the Division-I level.

 "One of the best things about Mo is he's able to really contribute all across the boards," said Cook.

 "He's athletic as a two guard, he can feed the post and make a dish that you really don't see many off guards make. He's got a toolbox that includes a little bit of everything."

 Included in this arsenal is Abuarisha's deceptive, high-rising athleticism.

 "He's got 'sneaky bounce,'" Maynard said.

 "He doesn't look like he can jump but he's so long and athletic, to the point where he'll get his elbow above the rim to flush it with one hand or two hands. He definitely can get up there."

 Fitting, as it was a flair for the American game that had special appeal to the Israeli native from the very beginning.

 "Just the speed, the fact that there is a lot of transition play, the athleticism of the game, the dunking and the physicality, all of this I really liked," Abuarisha explained.

 Like has translated to love rather rapidly, since his arrival in sun-soaked Delray Beach.

 "He just works so damn hard," said Cook. "You would think he's a 13th man trying with all his might to make a 12-man roster. There are no limitations with him. He is full throttle in everything he does."

 Added Falce,  "Having Rom (Ben Avi) here certainly helps his production. They are two hard-working, blue collar kids that do everything to the max. They take no shortcuts."

 Falce said a kid like Abuarisha has a high ceiling because of his lust for the unrequired work, because of a focus that doesn't seem to falter.

 "One of the main important things is having a trust level and those guys (Mohamed and Rom), they came in and they gained my trust level just with their work ethic," explained Falce.

 "A lot of basketball players, in the real world, when they see performance they don't look at it and evaluate it to the level of extreme as Mo and Rom. These guys came in willing to learn, understanding what they are trying to do, what we're trying to achieve as our goal."