AMES, Iowa – Abdel (pronounced ab-DOOL) Nader’s life was forever altered when he was three years old. It was at that time that his mother, Amina Rehama, decided a move was in the family’s best interest.
This wasn’t just moving across town, however. It was bigger than that.
There are over 6,000 miles between Alexandria, Egypt and Chicago, Ill. When Nader and his family made the move, their lives changed dramatically, but for the better. It wasn’t until the summer before Abdel’s ninth grade year that his future became clearer.
Nader started playing basketball the summer going into his freshman year. A self-proclaimed pudgy kid, Nader sprouted from 5-6 or 5-7 to about 6-1.
“That growth spurt really helped me and probably pushed me in the basketball direction even more,” Nader said. “It evened out my body a bit.”
Now he is 6-7 and new to Iowa State after transferring from Northern Illinois, where he averaged a team-high 13.1 points and grabbed 5.6 rebounds. He moves smoothly on the court for a player his size.
“I consider myself a little bit of a point-forward kind of player,” Nader said. “I can handle the ball, post up and get to the basket. I feel like I’m an athlete that can get out in transition and do a little bit of everything.”
That ability to get out in transition as allowed by head coach Fred Hoiberg was a small part of what attracted Nader to Iowa State.
“I had seen Iowa State on TV because of the great television exposure in the Big 12,” Nader said. “I’ve watched them play a lot. I knew that he allowed his players to play and get up-and-down. They were third in the nation in scoring, what player wouldn’t want to play in that kind of system?”
Hoiberg’s demeanor also stood out to the Skokie, Ill., native while he was watching the Cyclones play.
“He’s so relaxed,” Nader said. “The way he coaches keeps everyone relaxed, but they are still competing at the same time. It is just a great environment.”
Long removed from his days as a 5-6 eighth-grader, Nader dreams of playing in the NBA. Perhaps someday matching up with the player he tries to model his game after, Oklahoma City All-Star Kevin Durant.
It is with that goal in mind that Nader picked the Cyclones and Hoiberg, whose NBA knowledge made an impression on the transfer. With a year to focus on his game while sitting out, Nader hopes to become a better playmaker for his teammates.
“His understanding of the professional game is huge,” Nader said. “It gives you a lot of confidence to know that if you work hard and do what you have to do he’ll have your back and help you out. The fact that they have done so well with transfers in the past keeps you committed to the goal during a long year of sitting out.”