MILWAUKEE (BVM) – Marquette men’s basketball commit Al Amadou knows all too well about what perseverance on and off the court looks like. The Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Philadelphia) senior star couldn’t dribble the ball back when he was a freshman. Off the court, Amadou became despondent at 15 years old after he lost his dad to a sudden heart attack.
“If you know where Amadou started and where he is now – you probably wouldn’t believe it,” said Seth Brunner, who has worked closely with Amadou on the court for many years.
Amadou, a 6-foot-9, 185-pound power forward, chose the Golden Eagles over programs like Miami, Georgia Tech and others. But four years ago, few believed that he would receive even a single D-1 offer.
“To be honest, [my younger self as a freshman] wouldn’t believe [where I am now] because I was surrounded by people who thought I wasn’t going to be good at basketball,” Amadou said.
Amadou noted that he’s grateful to his many coaches for always believing in him – even though he lacked natural basketball talents.
“I remember the first workout I ever did with Al when he was in 8th grade,” Brunner said. “I picked him up from his house, we went to the gym and I just remember it would take him a long time to pick up on a lot of stuff. A lot of simple movements that are essential for kids at his size didn’t come naturally to him (he was 6-foot-3 in the 8th grade). But Al never got discouraged and was always coachable. He wanted to be challenged and worked super hard. Once it clicked, he never looked back. Where he is now has been unbelievable and awesome to see.”
Amadou credits his life struggles as the reasons why he’s a better player today.
Both his dad and uncle passed away within weeks of one another. He wasn’t the same after the two biggest father figures in his life were taken from him.
Amadou shut himself off from the world for nearly a whole year, and it was basketball that helped him find the strength to return to his more normal self.
“Losing my dad and uncle shaped me into the basketball player that I am today,” Amadou said. “Basketball was my way of escaping the world when I felt pain and I just hooped every day and honed my craft. It’s crazy because I always think that my dad would be beyond proud of me. It’s unfortunate I can’t see his smile right now, but I know he’s watching.”
Amadou, being the son of two immigrants, knows first hand how difficult it can be to stay afloat as a first-generation family in America. He’s currently being raised by a single mother and noted that he’ll be working hard at Marquette so that he can give her a better life.
“My mom is my motivation,” Amadou said. “I do everything because of her and when I think I’m tired while I’m playing – I think about how tired she is when she’s working.”
Amadou is ranked as the No. 29 PF in the country overall by 247 Sports Composite and ESPN rates him as a four-star recruit. He’s the No. 2 overall player in Pennsylvania by 247 Sports Composite and ESPN. Many can recall that current Marquette starting guard Stevie Mitchell was ranked as the No. 5 player in Pennsylvania by 247 Sports and ESPN in the Class of 2021.
Amadou recalls playing against Mitchell since the two played for the same AAU team: Philly Pride. They are the only players from Pennsylvania to ever sign to play for Shaka Smart at Marquette.
“I think it’s really cool to represent Pennsylvania at Marquette with Stevie,” Amadou said. “Especially us coming from the same AAU team, we are going to show everyone where that grit and toughness come from.”
Coach Smart noted in a press conference that “Al has unbelievable potential” and that, “if you don’t like Al, there’s something wrong with you.”
“I think it’s really cool he said that and it gives me the confidence to be the best version of myself on and off the court,” Amadou said about Smart’s comments. “I just know I’m going to have the best time getting to know everyone and I can’t wait until y’all see how I am as a person. I feel like my energy is very different.
“I can’t wait to prove Coach Smart right.”
Smart will likely utilize Amadou as a defensive specialist. He finished his senior season as the team’s rebounding leader with 7.1 per game and has shown immense defensive versatility.
“One thing I can definitely say is that I gave it my all on the defensive side of the floor this past season – averaging 4.3 blocks per game,” Amadou said. “I had a couple of games where I had 10-12 blocks a game. Also, my offensive rebounding is going to be something to look out for when I’m in college.”
“Al’s progression as a complete player has been as impressive as any player I’ve seen,” said Julian McFadden, SCH’s head basketball coach. “Al’s got great defensive instincts that you can’t teach. That helps him on the offensive end as well because he really knows how to pick his spots to score.”
Overall, the future looks bright for Amadou at Marquette, and even the NBA.
“I would not be shocked to see him in the league one day knowing him and who he is as a player and kid,” Brunner said. “While he is 6-foot-9, he has the fluidity of a forward/guard, he has a smooth shot with deep range and good mechanics, is very crafty when creating space inside the paint to get a shot off, and is super explosive when getting to the rim, especially in transition. While he needs to continue to put on muscle, keep improving his handle, and overall consistency that all young players deal with…all of the tools and potential to be a special player at Marquette are there.”