MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – A new era begins as Florida Memorial University officially named its new men's head basketball team.
There was a lot of excitement at the FMU campus Tuesday in Miami Gardens. Former NBA player Isiah Thomas was on campus for the announcement.
The university had promised it would be someone who had worked extensively with NBA-caliber players. It chose Ansar Al-Ameen to lead the Lions.
"It was an amazing opportunity just to come here," Al-Ameen said. "You know, I think back at all my time as an assistant, all my time working with NBA players, all my time wanting this opportunity."
The 44-year-old northern California native played basketball for Pinole Valley High School in Contra Costa County and served in the U.S. Air Force at Beale Air Force Base in Marysville until 1996. After coaching at Kennedy High School in Richmond, he began coaching at the collegiate level in 1997.
Al-Ameen started his college coaching career at Fresno State University and at the University of Missouri, while he earned a bachelor's degree in sociology. After he converted to Islam, he stopped eating pork and is a fan of the "Forks Over Knives" documentary.
Al-Ameen has trained players from Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern University. He also coached professional basketball players in Iran and NBA stars Leon Powe, Drew Gooden, Chuck Hayes and LeBron James.
Thomas, the 57-year-old Basketball Hall of Fame player who coached the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks and later Florida International University's basketball team, said he has known Al-Ameen for years.
"I am positive that with these young athletes that we have here, he will impart knowledge, he will impart wisdom," Thomas said.