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Amir Abdur-Rahim looks to bring history of rebuilding to USF

Men’s basketball coach Amir Abdur-Rahim led the Kennesaw State Owls to their most successful season in program history in 2022. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/ UNIVERSITY OF KENNESAW STATE ATHLETICS PHOTO

When Amir Abdur-Rahim first stepped foot on the campus of Kennesaw State as the newly hired head coach in 2019, the Owls were just a one-win program desperately in need of a rebuild. 

In just four seasons, Abdur-Rahim transformed Kennesaw State from one of the worst teams in college basketball to their first ever NCAA Tournament bid.

Putting together the best recruiting class in program history, he steadily increased the team’s win total every season. 

After winning just 19 games during his first three seasons, Abdur-Rahim guided Kennesaw State to a 26-win season this past year. The Owls earned their first ASUN championship since joining the conference in 2006. 

Abdur-Rahim also won the ASUN Coach of the Year and the Hugh Durham Award after the 2022-23 season. The Durham award honors the top mid-major head coach in DI men’s basketball. 

His impressive resume and strong recruiting ties earned him a job at USF, where he was hired on March 29. 

The triumphant track record he holds will now be at the hands of the South Florida men’s basketball program. Bulls fans are looking for him to bring winning basketball back to USF after a disappointing six-year tenure from former coach Brian Gregory.

USF men’s basketball has not finished with a winning record since 2019, with over a decade passed since the Bulls have last made an NCAA tournament appearance. 

First starting his playing career at Southeastern Louisiana, he was a three-time All-Southland Conference selection from 2001 to 2004. His coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Murray State. Abdur-Rahim gained his first assistant role at the College of Charleston in 2012. He filled assistant positions at Georgia and Texas A&M before being hired by Kennesaw State in 2019. 

At Georgia, Abdur-Rahim recruited guard and fellow Atlanta native Anthony Edwards, who would wind up being selected first overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. Edwards was ranked second in the nation coming out of high school, and is the highest rated commit in Georgia history.

Four star guard Jaykwon Walton was also recruited by Abdur-Rahim during his time at Georgia. Walton, who has since transferred to Alabama, is considered one of the top three-point shooters in college basketball. 

Abdur-Rahim’s impact on his players has become evident, with three Owls already announcing their intention to follow their coach to USF. Junior forward Chris Youngblood was the first to commit, announcing his intention to transfer on March 31. He led the conference-winning Owls with 14.7 points per game last season.

Two other Kennesaw State transfers have followed suit, with junior guards Brandon Stroud and Kasen Jennings also announcing they will be transferring to USF. Stroud was named ASUN Defensive Player of the Year last season. 

Coming from a basketball family, Abdur-Rahim is one of six siblings who have played college basketball. He and his wife, Arianne, have three kids. He is also the brother of former NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who is now the president of the NBA G-League. 

The arrival of more commits are anticipated as the 42-year old head coach begins to lay the foundations for the future of USF basketball.