Aj-Wajid Aminu desires to follow in the footsteps of his older brothers – not just live in their shadows.
The Aminu family features two members already playing basketball professionally, 25-year-old Al-Farouq (Wake Forest) who is a starter for the Portland Trailblazers and 28-year-old Alade (Georgia Tech) who plays for Hapoel Eilat of the Israel Super League.
Al-Farouq was selected No. 8 overall in 2010 by the Los Angeles Clippers and has now settled in with his fourth team in six seasons while Alade tested out the NBDL from 2009-10 prior to playing for seven teams overseas from 2010 till now.
For Al-Wajid, the youngest of three brothers, he says that his older brothers have been the biggest influence on his life.
“They have been through what I am experiencing and help give me advice and pointers on what to focus on,” Al-Wajid said.
Al-Wajid says he think it’s great having a brother playing in the NBA in Al-Farouq because “he gives me a lot of tips of living life while playing ball.”
“He [Al-Farouq] just shows me that anything is possible and it really helped to have coaches look at me when I was at a place with little exposure.”
The 6’7″, 190-pound Al-Wajid Aminu played his first three prep seasons at Coral Gables High down in Florida, but chose to transfer to Marietta-Wheeler (Ga.) for his final year. He averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds and two assists as a junior.
He says he made the switch because Coral Gables was not getting him the exposure that he wanted. Aminu also said that the team focus there wasn’t on getting better so he thought he needed a change.
Committed to play at North Florida back on Nov. 11, Aminu says that head coach Matthew Driscoll and his staff put a great effort into the recruiting process which made him feel like a top priority. The Ospreys won the Atlantic Sun last season on the way to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance with a 23-12 overall record.
“I committed to North Florida because they have a great school, a really great campus life and I fit very well into their system of play.”
Aminu and his Wheeler squad played in the City of Palms Tournament down in Fort Myers, Fla. from Dec. 18-23. The Wildcats led by now Cal star freshman Jaylen Brown captured the tournament championship in 2014.
This time around with a different cast, led by Aminu, center Romello White and guard Darius Perry, Wheeler lost in the quarterfinal round to Chaminade (Mo.) and the No. 2 player in the country in Duke commit Jayson Tatum.
Aminu averaged 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in three games at the tourney. He opened things up in a satisfying way with a team-high 18 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals in a first round win over Wesleyan Christian (N.C.). He shot 7-of-8 from the field.
He said the City of Palms Tournament is the best tournament he’s been too because of all the great basketball minds at all the games.
“It’s a really great place for getting some exposure and it felt similar to a college experience.”
Alongside Georgia Tech commit and senior four-star center Romello White and junior point guard Darius Perry, Aminu and the Wildcats are currently 9-0 in Region 5-AAAAAA in the state of Georgia with 12-5 overall record. He says playing with great players not only allows for the team to not be one-dimensional but also for him to continue to work harder and get better.
Aminu prides himself on his defense because he says he knows that is the one thing can remain consistent.
“I believe that I can never have a bad defensive game. Attacking the rim has always been what I do. It is a high percentage shot so I work on my skills that help me to attack the rim.”
Playing AAU ball back in ninth grade boosted Aminu’s confidence. He said he had some really great games that helped him become more poised.
What gets Aminu out of bed and into the classroom and on the court each and every day?
“It is my love for basketball, I realize that even in times where I just want to relax all I would like to do is play basketball. Also it’s the opportunity to do better then each time I go to practice or a game.”
Focusing on improving his post game this season, Aminu posted highs of 23 points and seven blocks with Coral Gables as a junior. He says he’s seen great development in post game already and that he’s been working on bringing his pull-up jumpers into his repertoire.
Aminu can snatch rebounds with the best of them and at his size and frame he’s a hybrid type of player who can play in both small or big lineups. His game translates well at the next level.
Many people tell him that he plays similar to his brother Al-Farouq, but he says he has tried to play similar to the likes of Memphis’s Jeff Green and Indiana’s Paul George. Most importantly he says “I try to play with a very high IQ.”
Big things are coming from Al-Wajid Aminu as he looks to progress his basketball career in the hopes of making a push into the NBA. The kid can flat out play. As a solid defender, who can rebound on both ends of the court and as a rising offensive weapon, Aminu should only improve with time. Being smart in and out of the classroom certainly helps his cause as well.
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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