November 21, 2014

Up goes Ali

Kevin McCarthy

Ali Faruqbey's Division I offer disappeared due to a coaching change after averaging 21.6 points per game as a senior coming out of San Lorenzo High so he ended up taking his talents out of state to Arizona Western College (AWC) in Yuma. A year from now, he will be residing in the Big Sky Conference as a member of the Idaho State Bengals.

photo of Ali Faruqbey

The 6-foot-2 Faruqbey enjoyed a very productive 2013-14 freshman season at AWC, averaging 16.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists, shooting 46% overall, 39% from three-point range and 66% at the foul line. But it was his participation in two basketball events, one as a prepster and the other just a few months back that changed his basketball trajectory.

Faruqbey's original plan was to sign with San Jose State University coming out of high school but the coaching staff there was let go and that opportunity dissolved. But while playing for the Lakeshow squad down in southern California in the spring of 2013, he caught the attention of Arizona Western College. “They offered and I accepted,” Faruqbey recalled.

Fast forward to the Jerry Mullen Top 100 JUCO Camp held in St. Louis this past summer. Faruqbey's performances there intrigued Idaho State Coach Bill Evans so much that an offer was forthcoming. “They wanted me to sign early but I wasn't sure,” Faruqbey explained. “I had a whole season to play” and he was leaning towards waiting.

But that thinking changed alongside his availability to play as Faruqbey took a charge in practice a week before this season started. “I didn't take it correctly and ended up breaking my wrist.”

Obviously concerned about his recruiting status since he won't make it back on court until January -- "if it heals fast” -- at the earliest, he reconsidered. “Coach Evans called me, sensed something was wrong and asked what it was. I told him I had just broken my wrist and would be out all season. But he never changed, he still believed in me and what I could do, and told me he would work on getting me a flight to Pocatello.”

“They really showed the type of coaches they are and how they really invest into their players, making sure they are great character kids. The head coach and staff believes in my talent and I was sold on the relationships that the coaches build with their guys and that's what I wanted to be a part of.” So Faruqbey committed.

The Bengal braintrust is looking to primarily position him the two guard.

Now he's faced with another decision. Does he try to play this season and risk re-injury or sit out and preserve a year of eligibility. If he does the latter, “I'll have a chance to get my Master's degree [at Idaho State].” Stay tuned on that one.

This news means he will be getting back to California for family and friends to see him play when Idaho State faces fellow league member Sacramento State. Another element to this decision is matching up in the backcourt with other Bay Area-ites like Montana's Mario Dunn and Jermaine Edmonds.

Faruqbey is certain his time at AWC has aided his basketball development. His assessment: “I'm a way better defender, my shooting has improved and my ballhandling has too.”

From Chicago to San Lorenzo to Yuma and now to be heading to Pocatello. It may be the road less traveled but it's Faruqbey's pathway to the D-I level he was headed to earlier.