As a player, El-Amin led the Polars to three straight state championships
By Harry Colbert, Jr., Managing Editor
A hero is coming home.
Former North High star Khalid El-Amin is returning to the gym that made him a legend, as he has been announced as an assistant coach of the Polars’ boys varsity basketball team – a team that has won back-to-back state championships. According to Polars Head Coach Larry McKenzie, the decision to bring El-Amin on had been made some time ago, but the two kept it under wraps until this past Wednesday (Nov. 8).
McKenzie said adding former star point guard to the staff was a no-brainer.
“He (Khalid) had been hurt a couple of years ago and during that time he would come to the school and spend a lot of time with the kids and workout with them and things like that. When he decided he was going to retire from playing, I asked him about coaching and asked if he’d consider joining the staff,” said McKenzie. “I’ve always wanted to connect the people from the past to this current program.”
El-Amin was a part of the program from 1994-1997, leading the team to three straight state titles and capturing Mr. Basketball honors in Minnesota in 1997. He went on to the University of Connecticut where he led the team to its first ever national championship in 1999. Highly skilled, but undersized, El-Amin was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2000 and played 50 games in the NBA before heading overseas for an illustrious career, retiring in 2016. Just recently El-Amin was named the best boys basketball player in the 100-year history of Minnesota high school sports.
For El-Amin, the homecoming is serendipity.
“I’m excited to come home. Each time I step into this gym I get goosebumps,” said El-Amin. “There’s a winning tradition here at North and you have a sense of pride about North Basketball.”
Known for having a high basketball I.Q., some had thoughts of El-Amin coaching in the collegiate ranks, but for now, that’s not in the plans.
“This (North) is where I really want to be,” said El-Amin, who is ever the assist man, even now as a coach. “It would be great to win a state championship as a coach, but it’s not about me, it’s about the players. I always got the greatest reward for giving my pass and seeing others score. That’s what it’s like now as a coach.”
As if the Polars didn’t already have targets on their backs, the addition of El-Amin widens the bull’s-eye. Back-to-back state champs in Class 1A, the Polars were bumped up to 2A for the 2017-2018 campaign, but that shouldn’t worry the team too much, as it regularly competes against 3A and 4A squads in league and non-conference play. The Polars open the season Dec. 9 against vaunted Apple Valley in the Tip Off Classic at Hopkins Senior High. Apple Valley features the nation’s top point guard and future Duke Blue Devil, Tre Jones.
North returns senior Odell Wilson, Tayler Johnson, Nasir El-Amin (nephew to Khalid El-Amin) and the nation’s top ranked player for 2022, Trejuan Holloman.