|Interview With Pro Imad Qahwash: International Pro Basketball Player|
Written by Kirk Alfaro on Wednesday, 13 March 2013
It’s every kids dream when s/he picks up a basketball and falls in love with the game to one day make a living from playing it professionally in the NBA. For most players, those dreams slowly fade away while reality quickly creeps in after they close out their respective careers at post-secondary. For a select few though, who possess the height, skills, athleticism and most importantly drive and determination, the dream continues. It’s been a long and arduous journey for Imad Qahwash on his quest to fullfill his dream. But after recently completing his second season in the Chinese Basketball Association where he played against the likes of Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady and Stephon Marbury, you can say his dream of playing in The League is still alive and well.
Qahwash, a 6’2” PG out of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, was a standout player during his high school years at Grand River H.S. where he took the school to their first ever OFSAA berth. During that time he also played in the AAU circuit for Grassroots Canada that eventually led to him being offered a scholly to Jacksonville University in Florida. He accepted but eventually passed on the offer and instead chose to play another year of secondary at Harmony Prep in Cincinnati, Ohio to improve his recruiting position. There he helped Harmony win the National Prep Championship and that led to a full-ride offer from NCAA D1 Central Arkansas University which he took. Qahwash averaged 12.6ppg in his senior year at Central Arkansas and upon graduating got his first taste of playing pro ball in the fall of 2011 with AeroSvitz Cup of the Ukraine where he dropped 13.4pts in five games. From there he went on to showcase his skills at a Spanish Pro Summer League and more notably at a NBA D-League mini-camp of the Los Angeles D-Fenders. He wasn’t signed by the D-Fenders but he did catch the eye of a Chinese Basketball Association scout who then offered him a chance to play for the Jiangsu Dragons of the CBA.
TheHoop-la: What’s it like playing in the Chinese Basketball Association?
Qahwash: It is honestly a great situation for my young career. It is a very competitive league and one of the top leagues in the world, there are NO nights off. Every game, I am guarding NBA talent or former NBA all-stars so it’s definitely a great situation and an awesome challenge, which I think I’ve done a great job with but can always get better. There is a big NBA influence so it is patterned after the NBA season. The travel schedule can be challenging sometimes for guys but doesn’t really bother me. Playing 3 games a week and different flights every week, you have no choice but to take care of your body if you want to be successful.
As a player looking to stick on a pro bball team, looking back where or what would you say was the biggest and toughest challenge?
Being a professional at all times is the best way to stick at this level. I stay away from going out or that sort of thing during season. I am really just focused on basketball and helping my team win. I think focus along with professionalism, which comes with a lot are 2 important things to stick.
What would you say is your future biggest and toughest challenge?
Everyday, I try to challenge myself. The future challenge is of course trying to get to the NBA. I have had a taste of the NBA D-League, one goal of mine is to be in the NBA Summer League and so I need to take one step at a time. I want to be the best I can be at what I do and I feel I have a lot I can accomplish if I do challenge myself everyday. Playing some past and current NBA players/stars and doing well, makes anything in reach. In saying that, I have so much work to do before I can make that possible but I intend to work hard on my game every chance I get.
Where do you want to be in a couple of year basketball-wise?
I want to see myself as one of the best Point Guards in FIBA Asia and/or which ever league I am playing in. I see myself getting a legitimate NBA shot. I see myself established on and off the court as a brand and just an overall consummate professional on and off the court. Lastly, I really want to start some kind of basketball foundation that can fund kids from my old neighborhood to maintain a healthy lifestyle using basketball to accomplish goals educationally and athletically.
What do you see yourself doing after your basketball career is over?
I don’t wait until my basketball career is over. I understand that you have a certain window where you can play basketball. I already have some projects I am working on off the court. I am looking to further my education and begin to get my doctorate degree, as one day I want to open up my own sports medicine office. Obviously, I have a lot of goals and ventures I want to do during and after basketball but want to keep them to myself respectively at the moment.
Are you still involved with the Jordanian National basketball program?
I am still involved to an extent but at the moment I won’t be playing international basketball until the summer. I really want to concentrate on my professional career. Off seasons for me usually consisted of international basketball, this off season I want to switch it up and concentrate on adding things to my game rather than playing ALL year around.
Of all the countries you have visited, in terms of basketball, which one really stuck out in your mind?
China will be my 28th country I’ve been to regarding basketball. I think China definitely is the one that sticks out the most. The fans, players and country is amazing. Every time I come here, I enjoy it on and off the court. Culturally it is rich and I love learning about different cultures and early civilizations, which China has a lot of. It is very diverse in culture especially in the bigger cities (Shanghai, Beijing).
How are your Tri-City camps going?
The Tri-City Camps are going really well, we just closed our SR. Girls Camp and have 40 of the best Seniors attending our camp in May. We now have Adidas involved who is taking care of the gear for camp. I am super excited about this Spring and to have all 4 camps running! We have received great feedback from parents, kids and media about it so I am very happy about that.
What advice would you give to players in Canada aspiring to play pro ball?
My advice to aspiring players in Canada to play professionally would be WORK HARD. It’s really cliché but it works, if you hit a wall or get a let down don’t let that stop you. It takes time and steps to get to the professional level. It never happens overnight. I dedicated 17 years of playing for no money, going through struggles, battling, breaking down, building up, critics, failing, succeeding in order to live my dream now and actually make a career out basketball. Never get discouraged if it doesn’t work out the first time. It started when I was 6, not when I was a senior in high school. Set short term goals first to be able to set long term goals. Lastly, never ever be satisfied with where you’re at.