Khalid El-Amin: Alive and Kicking

November 10th, 2006

The name Khalid El-Amin is sure to bring a smile to a UConn fan’s face and nausea to a Dookies’ stomach. As the point guard for the Huskies, El-Amin helped lead Connecticut to the 1999 NCAA Championship, beating the Blue Devils in the finals and earning El-Amin Final Four All-Tournament status. A second round pick of Chicago in 2000, Khalid enjoyed a fairly successful rookie season – he even was chosen to play in the All-Rookie game at that year’s All-Star festivities. Surprisingly El-Amin hasn’t stepped onto an NBA court since.

His battle to make it back to the League has gone overseas, where El-Amin has continued his winning ways and has become one of the best players in Europe.  Check out this resume - back-to-back Turkish League Player of the Year (04 & 05) and last year in the Ukraine - 2006 Ukrainian Championship, 2006 Championship series MVP and 2006 regular season MVP.  This season Khalid’s Azovmash Mariupol squad is in third place in the Ukrainian Superleague with a 5-1 record.  El-Amin poured in 22 points in their last win.


CHN got the chance to catch up with El-Amin for a little hoops summit:


Jeff Fox (CHN) - So did you ever imagine you’d end up in the Ukraine at some point in your life?

Khalid - No, to speak truthfully, but I’m comfortable with my situation right now.


CHN - After a couple of successful seasons in Turkey why did you leave?

Khalid - The reason for me leaving was simple. The money in the Ukraine was too much to turn down.


CHN - Not to be too nosey, but how much can an import pull in in your league?

Khalid - Let’s just say I’m able to support my family.


CHN - Fair enough.

Khalid - I make more than some NBA players.


CHN - Free rent and car too?

Khalid - Yes, that’s always a plus if you don’t have to pay rent or a car payment.  That is a good thing about playing overseas.


CHN - Tell us about the city you live in - what’s it like?

Khalid - Well the city is Mariupol, Ukraine.   The population is 500,000 and it is an industrial city.


CHN- Good fan support for the team?

Khalid - Yes, its ok, but Turkey has the most and best fanatics.


CHN - So who is your team’s other American import player?

Khalid - Right now I’m the only American but maybe that will change soon.


CHN – Players I’ve interviewed in the past talk about the pressure that comes with being a North American import on European teams - you are expected to do it all and not have an off night - do you feel that pressure?

Khalid – Yes, since Americans or imports are paid more the teams expect you to make the difference. That’s normal for me. I myself expect myself to make the difference.  So there is really no pressure.


CHN - You’ve carried over your winning ways from college to the pros - 2 Turkish League MVPs and a Ukrainian Championship and MVP - did I miss anything?

Khalid – No, but the NBA is still my dream and god willing soon it can come true.


CHN - Why didn’t the NBA work out the first time?  You had a pretty successful rookie year in Chicago - started some games – played in the rookie All-Star game, etc.

Khalid – Yes, in Chicago we had a very young team, and there was no one to tell me to hold on, be strong, it is a long season, your chance will be there. I was young and I was thinking at that stage I was the best point guard and they aren’t being fair. But now I realize it’s a business and you have to wait your turn if you are not a big money player.  I learned a lot from my time in the NBA and if I come back I will be a better player and teammate.  No one ever seems to remember that I was in the rookie All-Star game as a second round pick. This is really big for the #34 pick.


CHN - For sure. That is why I’m curious why another team or Chicago didn’t snatch you up after your rookie year - were you given a reason by anyone?

Khalid - No reason just the team is going a different direction.


CHN - Well the Bulls did win a whopping 21 games the next year!!

Khalid – I’m a much better player than in 2000 and I’m ready to prove it whoever it may be.


CHN - It must give you hope seeing guys like Anthony Parker and Maceo Baston make it back to the League after becoming stars in Europe.

Khalid – Yes, indeed it’s great that these guys get what they deserve in a NBA contract.


CHN – You’re still a young guy, and you’ve proven yourself to be a big time player and winner in Europe.  How much interest are you currently getting from NBA teams?

Khalid - To be honest Jeff I don’t know.   I will see after the season.


CHN - What’s your current contract situation - a one-year deal?

Khalid – Yes, I’m done after this season.


CHN - The past few summers were there many NBA teams sniffing you out?

Khalid - Maybe 1 or 2 but I want to wait until more teams see the value in myself.


CHN - Would you have to, or be willing to, take a pay cut or do the free agent tryout thing for a chance at the NBA?

Khalid – Yes, I’m not crazy.  I understand I will have to take a chance on myself in order to get back to the NBA. But I need a good situation for me - not just any situation.


CHN - So what are your plans after the season?  Plan on playing for any NBA summer league teams?

Khalid - Yes, I know teams want to see me and I will wait to see what opportunity will present itself.


CHN - Time to sell yourself - job interview time! - Why should a NBA team want Khalid El-Amin to play for them?  What do you bring to the table?

Khalid - A winner, a player who understands his role on the team.  A good teammate.  And last but not least a good person who wants the best for himself.


CHN - You have been a big time winner at every level - NCAA, pro - what has been your biggest career thrill/highlight so far?

Khalid - Winning the NCAA championship.


CHN – You still talk to many guys from that squad?

Khalid – Yes, all the time from Rip, K Free, Rashamel.


CHN - I, stupidly, thought Rip Hamilton was going to be too skinny for the NBA!

Khalid - Many people did.


CHN - I take it you’re not surprised by how successful he has become?

Khalid - Not really. I knew it was only a matter of time and the right situation.


CHN - You keeping track of the current UConn squad?

Khalid - Here and there but when it’s March I tune in.


CHN - Who is the toughest guy you’ve been matched up against on each level - NCAA, NBA and Europe?

Khalid – NCAA - Wooten from Washington Huskies; Iverson and Marbury for NBA; Europe no one yet.


CHN – No one in Europe is in your league eh!!

Khalid – It’s a different game over here.


CHN - What are the major differences?

Khalid – It’s about team in Europe.  If you score 40 and lose it doesn’t matter. In the NBA there is so much room to operate and if you can play one-on-one you can be successful.


CHN - Which style do you prefer?

Khalid – I’m ok with both whoever wants me show me the money.


CHN - So with it being a more team oriented style, do you still get many guys trying to get a rep by taking it hard at you  - the big NCAA/NBA star?

Khalid - Sometimes but I always come out on top.


CHN - Who is going to win the NCAA title this year?

Khalid – I’m going to go with UConn.


CHN - Surprise!!

Khalid - ha ha ha.


CHN – Saved the most important question for last - What is Ron Artest really like!! (Khalid & Artest were teammates on the Bulls)

Khalid - He is the most humble person ever.


CHN - He gets a bad rep then?

Khalid – Yes, he does crazy things.


CHN - But he’s not crazy?

Khalid – No, not at all.  But he wants to be great.



For more info on Khalid, check out his website at


CHN is looking for other former NCAA stars to do interview pieces with.  If you are a former player (or a friend/family member of one) please drop us a line at