High notes and a high ceiling for prospect Amirah Abdur-Rahim
When Amirah Abdur-Rahim was growing up, she could find her siblings in three places. Some of them were playing basketball at their high school gyms. Others were playing basketball in their college gyms. One was even playing in the NBA.
Abdur-Rahim, a 16-year-old who plays for St. Francis (Alpharetta, Georgia), is the 11th of 13 children of William Abdur-Rahim. Eight Abdur-Rahim kids have played in college. Shareef Abdur-Rahim took his game all the way to the NBA.
"It was exciting to go see my siblings play. At times, there were more than one of my brothers on the court at the same time at Wheeler (Marietta, Georgia)," Amirah said. "It influenced me. I wanted to play with my brothers."
Abdur-Rahim has eight brothers and four sisters ranging in age from 44 to 10 (the children have four different mothers). She seems destined to become the ninth Abdur-Rahim sibling and the second woman in the family to play college basketball -- her oldest sister, Aminah, played at Clark Atlanta.
A 6-2 forward and the No. 60 player in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60 for the 2020 class, Abdur-Rahim already has more than 15 college scholarship offers.
She has yet to list her top five schools, but she said the University of Georgia, where her brother, Amir, is an assistant coach for men's basketball, is a lock to be one of her finalists. NC State, Florida and Vanderbilt are among the other schools involved, but Amir may give the Bulldogs an edge for now.
"Amir and I share the same name, kind of," said Amirah, who lives in Marietta, about two hours away from the Georgia campus. "We are alike in multiple ways."
Signing Amirah would be a wise move for any college, at least according to Shareef Abdur-Rahim, a 6-9 forward who was an NBA all-star in 2002 and is now working for the league as the vice president of basketball operations.
As a player, Shareef was also a two-time Mr. Georgia Basketball, the Pac-10 Player of the Year in his one season at Cal, the third overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft and an NBA first-team all-rookie selection. He then served as a Sacramento Kings assistant coach and a Kings' assistant general manager, giving him a lot of credibility to talk about his sister's talent.
"I think she has the potential to do as well as she wants to, and I don't say that lightly," said Shareef, who at 41 is the second-oldest of the Abdur-Rahim siblings. "I wouldn't say that or set her up that way if it weren't true.
"How far she goes in basketball depends on how hard she works and how much she focuses. She's at an inflection point in her career, and we will find out about her over the next couple of years.
"In high school, the bigger, stronger kid can dominate. But in college, it's going to be about skill, maturity, determination, work ethic, concentration, basketball intelligence and overall intelligence."
Amirah, who spent a few days at Shareef's home this past June soaking in basketball and training knowledge, has a 3.5 GPA and plans to become a pediatrician.
Besides doctor and athlete as potential career paths, Amirah is also interested in becoming a professional singer. Talent shows can be arbitrary in their judgments, but Amirah finished first in a middle-school singing performance. Last year, she finished third at her high school's show, and she plans to win it later this month, this time singing a duet with basketball teammate Jordan Isaacs.
"Amirah and I are always singing in the locker room," said Isaacs, who will sing the Christina Perri song, "A Thousand Years," with Abdur-Rahim in this year's show.
"Sometimes we harmonize. Sometimes she will sing higher, and I will sing lower. It's just whatever sounds good."
What sounds good to St. Francis coach Aisha Kennedy is putting Amirah's name in the starting lineup.
Kennedy, who attended Wheeler High with Shareef, has known Amirah her whole life. Kennedy started to notice Amirah's athleticism when Amirah was in seventh grade.
"She is that long type of player I really like," Kennedy said of Amirah, who averaged 9.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.8 steals and 0.7 blocks in 26 games last season. "She has great timing on shot-blocks, and she doesn't foul a lot. She can defend post players and also guards on the wings.
"Her defense is ahead of her offense right now, but she runs the floor really well, rim to rim. She can take you off the dribble and also hit the open 3. She just needs more consistency on her shot and more ball-handling skill."
Amirah, who also plays volleyball and runs track -- competing in the 200, 400, 800, high jump, triple jump and relays at various points in her prep career -- is that type of raw and long athlete college coaches love, according to AAU coach Alfred Motton.
"I think she will be a stretch forward or small forward in college," said Motton, who runs the Atlanta-based Finest Basketball Club program. "She continues to improve."