Lansing Pharaohs among 2022 expansion teams

Muhammad El-Amin’s basketball career has come full circle.

He first appeared on the Grand Lansing hoops scene as a standout player in Holt, one of the top scorers for the Rams’ 2005 state championship team.

El-Amin then played two years at Lansing Community College, followed by two seasons at Stony Brook, where he won America’s Eastern Conference Player of the Year as a senior and led the Seawolves. at NIT.

From 2010 to 2019, El-Amin performed overseas in Hungary, Israel, Italy, Greece, Qatar and Argentina.

But now he’s back in Lansing as part of the city’s newest foray into professional basketball.

He is a member of the Lansing Pharaohs, who are six games into their inaugural season as part of the Basketball League.

“Meeting the owner, Chris Jackson, seeing what he believes in and what he’s trying to do, that was something I wanted to be a part of,” El-Amin said. “It’s always good to play for the local team. It’s a good thing to play here and to have a team here. There hasn’t been this much basketball here in a while as far as the professional level goes. ”

What is the basketball league?

The Basketball League is in its second season and consists of 44 teams in four conferences. Lansing competes in the Midwest Conference with 12 other teams, including Michigan teams Detroit Hustle and Flint United.

Muhammad El-Amin, right, shoots as Montrell Little defends during a Lansing Pharaohs basketball practice Tuesday, March 29, 2022 at Don Johnson Field House in Lansing.

TBL is professional basketball and each player on the team receives, at a minimum, a monthly stipend of $800. The list of Pharaohs varies wildly in terms of age, ranging from 24 to 37, and experience.

The Pharaohs are at least the fourth team in the past decade to try to establish themselves as a semi-pro or pro team in Lansing. Previous outfits include the Lansing Capitals, who played in multiple leagues between 2006 and 2016; Lansing Sting, who only appeared to play one season in the ABA in 2015; and Lansing Legends, which also only lasted one ABA season in 2018-19.

El-Amin, 34, is the team’s second-leading scorer with 19.8 points per game and second in rebounds at 6. With so much experience as an overseas player, El-Amin hopes to secure leadership of this year’s team and set a precedent that can carry over into future seasons.

El-Amin was contacted by a few foreign teams in November, but decided to stay at Lansing.

“I’m looking to be in better shape and help any player who is looking to go overseas,” El-Amin said. our first year, winning a championship. Or there could be someone graduating from high school or college next year who is watching this team and wants to come.

“We’re trying to make it something that we can do for the next three to five years.”

Who plays for the Lansing Pharaohs?

Besides El-Amin, there are a number of players with a lot of experience.

There’s center Sam Muldrow, 33, who was the 2011 SEC Defensive Player of the Year at South Carolina. He also played in Greece and Canada and is Lansing’s fourth leading scorer and leading rebounder and shot blocker.

Maurice Jones, who played his high school ball at Saginaw Arthur Hill, played collegiately at USC (2010-12) and Northwood (2014-16) and is the team’s assist leader. Jones averaged 11.5 points in his sophomore year at USC and 21 points and 6 assists at Northwood.

There’s also forward Rozelle Nix, who played in Pitt and then overseas in Portugal, and is a cousin of former Michigan State star Derrick Nix.

But the team’s top scorer doesn’t quite have that pedigree: in fact, he’s from Lansing: Ja’Myrin Jackson, who graduated from Everett in 2016 and went on to play in the LCC before playing for Flint at TBL. last season.

Ja'Myrin Jackson looks for a pass during a Lansing Pharaohs basketball practice Tuesday, March 29, 2022 at Don Johnson Field House in Lansing.

Jackson is averaging 24.6 points, his best game against his former team, Flint, on March 18, when he had 35 points.

“The league provides a lot of exposure,” Jackson said. “They have links with Europe, overseas and the G League. My ultimate goal is the NBA, so that’s a good place to start.

“I never try to be the top scorer, I just play to win,” he said. too bad for the team. I’m just gonna play the game I know how to play.

Jackson also worked hard defensively, and it paid off, as he’s third in the league in steals (2.8/game).

“In high school and at the LCC, people said I couldn’t play defense,” Jackson said. “Now defending is something I’m really proud of this year and I’m doing pretty well.”

Other pharaohs with ties to Lansing include Maurice Benson (Everett/LCC), Lance Adams (Great Lakes Christian College) and DJ Swift (born in Lansing).

“The goal is to maximize the potential of this team,” coach Scott Newman said. “To squeeze every ounce we can as these guys’ coaching staff. And yet the chips fall in number of victories, too bad. And give them the opportunity to advance their careers, if that’s what the goals and aspirations are.

Meet Lansing Pharaohs Coach Scott Newman

Head Coach Scott Newman instructs players during a Lansing Pharaohs basketball practice Tuesday, March 29, 2022 at Don Johnson Field House in Lansing.

Newman has coached at many levels since graduating from Grand View University (Iowa) in 1993. From 2013 to 2020, Newman has been with the Windsor Express in the National Basketball League of Canada, in various roles such as Director of Professional Scouting, Assistant/Player Development Coach and Associate Head Coach.

He also coaches the Official Basketball Association, American Basketball Association, and junior high and high school levels.

It was the chance to be a head coach that attracted Newman to Lansing.

“Typically, expansion teams start slow and can only win three games all year,” Newman said. “But we had the opportunity to form a team with a good mix of veterans and youngsters. We were able to gel slowly but surely. We try to build the right culture.

The Lansing Pharaohs basketball logo on display at practice Tuesday, March 29, 2022 at Don Johnson Field House in Lansing.

Newman prefers a rhythmic style, and with many top scorers like Jackson, El-Amin, Jones and Muldrow, this allows the Pharaohs to go up and down and rack up points. They are averaging 114.2 points per game, good for 10th in the league.

“I pride myself on being a quick coach both offensively and defensively,” Newman said. “I like to have a style of play that not only will the players enjoy playing, but the fans will enjoy, come in, buy their ticket and get to see a high score game.”

How to Watch Lansing Pharaohs

Lansing is currently 3-3, and he has three home games this weekend: Friday against the Kentucky Enforcers, Saturday against the Cincinnati Warriors and Sunday against Windsor Express.

Friday and Saturday games are at 7 p.m. and the Sunday contest is at 3 p.m. All home games are held at the Don Johnson Field House, located on the campus of Eastern High School.

Lance Adams, center, plays defense during a drill as part of a Lansing Pharaohs basketball practice Tuesday, March 29, 2022, at Don Johnson Field House in Lansing.

After this weekend, they will still have nine home games. The 28-game schedule ends May 29.

Check the schedule and buy tickets on the Pharaohs website, lansingpharaohs.com. Tickets are $5 each.

“Hopefully we’ll have better and bigger crowds and fans, especially if we win,” Newman said. “Guys and girls will come to see a good show and have family entertainment in this community.”

IF YOU ARE GOING TO

WHO: Basket Lansing Pharaohs

When7 p.m. Friday vs. Kentucky, 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Cincinnati, 3 p.m. Sunday vs. Windsor

Or: Don Johnson Fieldhouse, Lansing

Tickets: $5 each, lansingpharaohs.com.

Contact digital sports journalist Phil Friend at 517-377-1220 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Phil_Friend.

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