Every spring, basketball players from the U.S. and abroad come to the IMG Academy basketball program with hopes of a future in professional basketball. From sure-fire NBA lottery picks to players simply preparing for a tryout with a lower-level pro club, each player in the Academy's pre-draft program/Pro Training Center has a different story and background. They share one thing in common - the desire to improve their game at the IMG Academy basketball program. See below for some background on one of our recent players.
Ahmad Nivins' Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Award is impressive enough... until realizing that Nivins did not start playing organized basketball until he was 15 years old. His rapid improvement, coupled with 6-foot-9 and 240-pound size, translated to 19.2 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game for St. Joseph's University this past season.
Ahmad Nivins on...
Playing for legendary coach Bob Hurley at St. Anthony in New Jersey... (long pause) I've actually heard that he's kind of mellowed, so I don't even want to know what he was like 10 or 15 years ago. He's on his guys. One of the analogies that he uses is, "It's like medicine. You don't like the taste, but you like the after-effect." I didn't quite understand that when I played for him. I think I can speak for a lot of guys in saying that, at times, you hated playing for him. But he's on you for a reason. He demands your best, and you need someone like that to help make you successful.
It's probably one of the toughest experiences that anyone has to go through. When you look at his resume and successes in the past, you can't argue with how he does it.
How he feels about Coach Hurley now... There's nothing but love between myself and Coach Hurley. I still keep in touch with him. His daughter just had a baby recently. In the summer, I'll call him and ask if I can go by and get some shots in.
Switching from baseball to basketball... I had played baseball since I was 7. I wasn't the best, but I worked at it. Most kids where I'm from had a dream of hitting a game-winning shot. I had a dream of pitching a shutout and hitting a home run. I'd go out in the projects where I'm from and just shoot basketball with friends at first. In middle school there was an open gym, and some of my friends told me to come out.
I realized it pretty quick that I like playing basketball and gave up baseball. It wasn't so much a height thing, I just realized basketball's kind of fun and I want to do this.
His basketball improvement... The competitiveness and hunger to get better has grown over the years. I wasn't the same competitor, with the same fierceness, when I started playing. You don't get the accolades being a nice guy on the court. I hate losing, and daily improvement is a daily goal of mine - get better today than you were yesterday and do the same thing tomorrow.
Growing up in Jersey City... I don't really know how to describe it, because I don't want to knock it - it's home for me. It's a rough place. I won't say it's a war zone, but it's tough to grow up there. You learn ways to survive. You get a group of super-close friends and family to help you get through things. It's just home for me.
The workouts at IMG Academy... I'm pretty worn down, but I think one of the better things about this place is that as much as they way you down, they make you better with therapy, hydration and stretching. As much as they take away, they give back
The talent is a level up from what I've heard. I've only spoken to a few people who have been here and they told me that it's a great place and that I'll get better and in better shape. After coming here, it's definitely been the case. I'm in better shape and developing as a player.
Going against other pre-draft guys at IMGA... The best competitors - and I think we have a handful here - make everything a competition. Doesn't matter if it's free throws or stretching. Pretty much every thing we do, guys are looking at making it competitive. I think that makes the workouts that much more interesting.