Forty-six years ago, in November 1975, 350,000 Moroccans advanced several kilometers into what was then the province of Spanish Sahara. This Green March was a strategic mass demonstration coordinated by the Moroccan government to force former Colonial ruler Spain to hand over the disputed territory to Morocco. Ultimately, Morocco gained control over most of the former Spanish Sahara, which it continues to hold.
I attended a ceremony commemorating the Green March on Sunday, November 7, 2021. Lasting a little over 4 hours, the ceremony was held at United Islamic Center (Ulu Cami Ana Sayfa Mosque) at 408 Knickerbocker Avenue in Paterson. The event was festive, jovial and highly informative. For those few hours, I was immersed into Morrocan culture. Arabic was the only language spoken throughout the ceremony. I could not understand a single word. Fortunately, I had my Moroccan youngin with me.
Unable to understand a single word spoken, I was, nonetheless, able to fully able to comprehend the level of support that the Consulate General gives with selflessness and diligence to all members of the Moroccan community in the United States of America. Mr. Abdelkader El Jamoussi, The Consul General of Morocco in New York ensured that Boutayeb was among proud Moroccans for his commitment announcement.
Alaa Eddine Boutayeb is a bright and thoughtful young Moroccan man. He speaks four languages fluently. I leaned on him heavily throughout the day. He helped me understand the importance of the Green March. He told me what I was eating. I didn’t need him to translate the warmth displayed for their American guest. I truly had a wonderful time even though I could not understand a single word. [Note to self: You need to learn another language or two.]
Now… I was there for a very specific reason… My youngin was there to make a huge announcement.
Boutayeb committed to play basketball at Florida State University. It should be noted that, in addition to intelligence, he stands over 7’2” and possesses a feathery soft jump shot extending well beyond the college 3 point line. Youngfella is an accomplished international basketball player. He is a traditional highly skilled European big.
At Florida State, Boutayeb will get a lot of offensive possessions as a spot up shooter and post up option. With his European background, he will also be effective in pick and rolls and isolations. However, he shines as a jump shooter. He has a great stroke that is almost impossible for most players to block due to his length and high release point. Boutayeb can knock down the three at a good clip and hit fade-aways from 15-18 feet. Good ball handler for his size. Capable of driving off the dribble with left hand. Can take the ball all the way to the rim or dominate the midrange game. Good in the post as well. Uses a nice combination of fakes and solid footwork to get open looks underneath. He is good passer for his height. Boutayeb is a very well rounded offensive player.
Boutayeb had planned on playing prep basketball this year with Marco Morcos and the newly formed Dreamchasers Preparatory Academy. But, as I noted earlier, Alaa Eddine is a very bright and thoughtful young man. Morcos was able to connect him with Florida State. While he played with Dreamchasers Prep in a couple fall events, he wisely decided to shut it down once he made his college selection. Boutayeb considered a lot of high major programs. He really took his time and weighed his options before identifying and committing to the basketball program, arguably, best suited to help him develop.
Florida State Head Coach, Leonard Hamilton has extensive experience coaching and developing towering young basketball players from Africa and Eastern Europe… Undeniably, more than anyone at the college level. That experience weighed heavily in Alaa Eddine’s decision-making process. He knows that Coach Hamilton makes effective use of skilled 7-footers.
Over the past decade Florida State has boasted nine basketball giants. Six of the seven-footers were from abroad: Nigeria, the Slovak Republic, Chad, Poland, Senegal, and Serbia. The other two bigs hailed from Pennsylvania, Florida and Illinois.
This year FSU has 7’4” Naheem McLeod a junior from Philadelphia, 7-2 Tanor Ngom a senior from Dakar Senegal, and 7’0” Quincy Ballard a sophomore from Syracuse. It is conceivable that Boutayeb could see time at the stretch 4 position alongside McLeod or one of the other centers.
The Dean of Black Coaches, Leonard Hamilton, really impressed the young African during the recruiting process and especially on his official visit. This is not suprising, considering the fact that Hamilton has been at this for 33 years. His teams have qualified for 12 NCAA Tournaments and 11 NITs, highlighted by appearances in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight (2018) and Sweet 16 (2011, 2019, 2021) with Florida State, as well as a Sweet 16 appearance with Miami (2000).
My young Moroccan friend has decided to play for Hamilton and Florida State. Told you… That boy is smart!