Photo by Don Fennell
Fardaws Aimaq is in rare company.
The 2017 Steveston-London secondary grad has become the first high school basketball player from Richmond in 17 years to sign with a Division 1 program. He made it official Monday afternoon, putting pen to paper to join the Mercer (Georgia) University Bears starting next season.
Appropriately, the low-key occasion was held in the “Shark Tank” where the big man (6-foot-11, 250 pounds) honed his skills while nearly leading high school senior boys’ team to a provincial championship his Grade 11 season.
“Obviously the process was stressful, but I think we did everything the right way,” said Aimaq, who played this past season at Maine’s Bridgton Academy. The New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) named him a AAA first team all-star.
“I wanted to play with the best players in the world and the NEPSAC had that. I looked at the league as the best in America, and the little things I did to get ready for next year helped a lot,” he said. “I had a rough start and struggled at first, but once I went back in December and January I had a great (rest of the) year.”
Aimaq said the rigorous training that is commonplace at Bridgton proved invaluable.
“Putting myself around those kind of people was best for me. The guys love to compete every single day and our practices were crazy. They were more intense than games I’d say. Nobody wanted to lose, and the guys eat, breathe and sleep basketball. Those are the kind of people I like playing with.”
Aimaq’s parents are naturally elated for their son.
“He fell in love with basketball and it’s nice to see him get a full scholarship. I want him to one day play for Canada,” said his dad Faramarz, who is even prouder of the way his son carries himself as a person.
Said his mom Shahnaz: “I’m proud that he went after his dream.”
Mike Stoneburgh, who coached Aimaq at Steveston-London, said this a “huge day” for the Steveston-London basketball program.
“There hasn’t been a kid from Richmond (Kyle Russell in 2001) to join a Division 1 program in 17 years. It’s also nice to see that Canadian players are able to go down and compete in a sport that was dominated by American kids for a long time.”
Aimaq will become the sixth high school basketball player from Richmond to make the Division 1 ranks joining Russell, Pasha Bains in 1998, Andrew Mavis in 1994 and Ron Putzi and Brian Tait in 1988. All are former Richmond Colts.
Having graduated from Steveston-London as the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, Aimaq also sits fourth in scoring provincial AAA boys’ tournament history. But it isn’t only his obvious athletic talent that stands out.
“He’s a funny kid who likes to joke around,” said Stoneburgh. “He’s serious when it’s game time, but his great sense of humour will be appreciated. He’ll lighten the room when that’s needed.”
Aimaq has been selected to play in the All-Canadian Showcase all-star game April 23 at Toronto’s Hershey Centre. The game will feature elite players from throughout Canada, many of whom will also play on NCAA teams next season.