El-Amin remembers first state championship

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Minnesota State high School League Hall of Fame inductee Khalid El-Amin accomplished quite a bit during his prep basketball career at Minneapolis North.

The 5’10” point guard led the Polars to three consecutive state championships (1995, ’96, ’97), was named Mr. Basketball, won Metro Player of Year honors, played in the Magic Johnson Roundball Classic and was selected to the McDonald’s All-American team.

When all was said and done the most important goal for El-Amin was team-oriented.

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“The awards and accolades were great,” he said. “But my teammates and I wanted to win state championships. That was the ultimate goal.

So what stands out of those numerous championship highlights?

“They were a lot of great moments,” El-Amin said. “But the [1995] championship game with Staples-Motley during my sophomore year was definitely a highlight.”

 North entered the 1995 tournament—which was in a Sweet Sixteen format—whit a 26-0 record behind the outstanding player of senior guard Chris Rainey, sophomore guard Ozzie Lockhart and sophomore forward Jabbar Washington and El-Amin.

They reached the championship game by cruising past White Bear Lake (84-63), beating Cretin Derham Hall (51-48) and Duluth East (48-41).

Then the Polars’ team chemistry was disrupted as Rainey and Lockhart were ruled academically ineligible the morning of the game.

“That changed the dynamic of our team,” El-Amin said. “That evening we struggled in the first half because we had never played without them before.”

And struggled they did as Staples-Motley came out on firing on all cylinders building early leads of 17-5 and 23-9 and held a 31-26 halftime advantage.

El-Amin, however, remembered his teammates were ready to step up.

Henry Smith, Elbert Wall, Albert Green and Kavon Westberry picked up the slack as the Polars found themselves in 52-52 tie with 10 seconds remaining.

After a time out, El-Amin drove the lane and missed and Westberry tipped it in of the glass to win it.

“That just shows the character and strength of our team,” El-Amin said in reflection. “The guys stepped up, came in and played their role, he continued. “That is why that team will always be near to my heart.”

El-Amin concluded his remarks paying homage to his coach Robin Ingram and assistant Cliff Brown, who passed away last month.

“I was the water boy at North in ’86, ’87, ’88, and ’89,” he said smiling. “Coach Brown was this towering figure,” he continued. “He was the disciplinarian then and when I played for him. He would do whatever he could to help the North High basketball team and countless North High students. He was a great role model. I thank him for everything he has done.”

He had similar words for his head coach.

“Coach Robin Ingram was my gym teacher in elementary,” he said with pride. “He is a legendary coach. He had this calmness that rubbed off on myself our teammates. He was a little before his time. I wouldn’t be the player I was if it weren’t for him. The type of person that he was helped us to be great.”

El-Amin had one more person to thank. It was his father Charles El-Amin, who passed away earlier this month.

“I’m happy that my father had the opportunity to play high school,” he said. “He spent so much time investing in me,” he continued. “I wouldn’t be half of the player I was and I was very thankful that he was able to see that and he was able to enjoy that. That’s what makes me most proud of getting this award,” he said with emotion. “He would be pleased with me.”