adidas Super 64:

Prospects wing Karam Mashour new to the country, but already making noise

6-foot-6 Israeli has caught the attention of several schools in short time - including UNLV


Justin M. Bowen

Las Vegas Prospects wing Karam Mashour plays on Thursday, July 22, 2010, during pool play at the adidas Super 64 tournament at Rancho High School. Against Team A.C.C.E.S.S. during the Prospects’ Super 64 opener, he scored 11 points in a 77-63 victory.

Fri, Jul 23, 2010 (2:30 a.m.)

Karam Mashour clearly has the physical tools to play college basketball at the Division-I level.

On the side, he's a straight-A student, the ideal teammate, personable and coachable.

His biggest hurdle to clear, however, before making a true splash on the hoops scene in America is the language barrier.

Given everything else he has to offer, the strong, bouncy, 6-foot-6 Israeli wing is proving hard for major programs around the country to ignore, no matter what language he speaks.

"Every tournament, this kid has gotten better," said Las Vegas Prospects coach Anthony Brown, who has Mashour on his roster this summer. "This kid right here is going to be special."

Mashour, who has caught the eyes of several coaches around the country with his play earlier this summer in tournaments in Indianapolis and Los Angeles, made his debut Thursday at the adidas Super 64.

In the Prospects' first game in pool play, Mashour dropped in 11 points and recorded hustle tallies everywhere and anywhere as they rolled to a 77-63 victory over Team A.C.C.E.S.S. at Rancho High.

He showed a knack for driving hard and controlled to the rim from the perimeter, with a sharp ability to finish from all sorts of different angles. He's also a springy leaper and has a nice touch on his shot. Mashour's ability to drive to his left also is a marketable commodity to those coaches watching this week.

In terms of aesthetics, he has a nice build and room to grow even more.

The list of things he can do well goes on and on.

With experience on Israel's 18-and-under national team, Mashour — a Nazareth native — came to Las Vegas about five months ago to spend some extended time living with his uncle, Jason Awad.

Awad has lived in Vegas for 40 years, working for much of that time as a lawyer and, in recent years, adding experience in the banking and transportation industries to his résumé. He also has three kids of his own right around Mashour's age, which gave his teenage nephew a nice support system from Day 1.

"He told me how much he loves basketball, and I thought just to give him an opportunity, bring him over here," Awad said. "He has so much talent. We put him to practice to play over here, and all of a sudden a lot of schools are looking at him.

"He's studying (the language) at home; he's trying his best. He's really trying every day to become the best he can be."

Awad got in touch with the staff at the Impact Basketball Academy, and that is where Mashour has trained since coming to town.

Calling Brown about a chance of Mashour playing for the Prospects also was recommended to Awad, and it didn't take Brown long to be sold on the foreign teen.

"He came into the gym and the first thing he did was he stood under the basket flat-footed, he jumped up and (windmill dunked) it," Brown recalled vividly. "I said 'Yeah, we'll take him.'

"I didn't know if he could dribble, shoot or what else he could do, but that was exciting to me.'"

All Brown has seen Mashour do since then is continually blossom.

Of course, his on-court performances have left no doubt that he has the chops to play in America, but he's also adjusted to the culture in his new home thanks to his teammates.

"He asks them questions; that's how you bridge the gap," he said. "They love him. From the kids on the 17s to the kids on the 16s to the kids on the 15s, he's a rock star to them, because he's different. They ask him all kinds of questions."

Mashour won't be their teammate for much longer, though. He's returning to Israel for a trip following the Super 64's conclusion this weekend and won't play out the rest of the Prospects' summer slate.

However, already having graduated from high school at home, he plans on taking a post-grad year at Impact in preparation for hopefully playing collegiate hoops in the 2011-12 season.

Among the several schools already showing interest in Mashour are UNLV and Florida, with more sure to get in line soon.

"He is picking up the American game. He's becoming more aggressive, more physical, and the coaches are saying he has a lot of talent and potential," Awad said. "I would appreciate the opportunity for him to get an education and, at the same time, play basketball. That's his life."

Brown has no doubts that Mashour will play basketball at a high level in the United States.

The only thing in question is how high.

"The kid is phenomenal," he said. "(Prospects product) Luke Babbitt got drafted 16th (overall in the 2010 NBA draft). When I saw him as a freshman, I thought he was going to be pretty good. Craig Brackins played for us and went 21st in the same draft. I didn't know he was going to go 21st, but I knew he was going to be pretty good.

"I don't know if (Mashour) is going to go in the first round, but he's going to be pretty good."

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