After The SHU’s Are Hung Up: Mostafa Abdel Latif
For Egyptian-born Mostafa Abdel Latif, who graduated Sacred Heart University in 2014, the journey to playing college basketball was filled with stumbling blocks.
“I went to an NBA camp in Senegal and met Bill Bayno, who used to play for SHU back in the day,” recalled Latif. “He liked the way I played, and told me to contact him if I was interested in playing college basketball in the States. I was so excited that my dream was coming true.”
His dream was coming true, but as Mostafa landed in the U.S., he realized he didn’t know anyone.
“I was struggling when I first came to SHU, and I didn’t know how to focus on both basketball and school work,” said Latif. “I started getting tutors for every class I was taking and asked friends to help me with things I didn’t understand.”
Learning time management skills early as a freshman at SHU was a turning point, as Abdel Latif began to do well in the classroom and on the court.
“My favorite SHU basketball memory was my first game as a Division 1 college basketball player, when we beat Yale after a 28-point comeback,” said Latif. “I remember how motivated we were to win that game, and how focused everyone was on winning the game.”
The advice which drove him to reaching his goals and playing in America, were words spoken by his mother after a somber point in his young life.
“My dad left us when I was 10, it was a very tough time that made me think about quitting basketball,” recalled Latif. “My mom told me, ‘Don’t let anyone or anything affect your dreams. If you want something, go get it. Nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams, so go out there, work hard and you’ll be able to get whatever you want.'”
Practice produced much improved results ,and Mostafa continued to gain minutes and momentum.
The opposition took notice.
“I started dominating on the court, averaging 12 points and 11 rebounds in 6 consecutive games, and that’s what put me in the starting lineup,” said Latif.
Coach Anthony Latina told him before the game that he would be starting.
He finished that game with 12 points and 12 rebounds, then went on to win student-athlete of the week. He also put up 17 rebounds in a single game (second-best in SHU history), and would go on to lead the team in rebounds and finish 10th in the NCAA in rebounds-per-40 minutes.
With his confidence brimming, his teammates embraced him in such a way that he considers them family even to this day. He says he was accepted, tutored, and taught how to win in Division 1 athletics.
“Teamwork is very important to me, because my team is my family,” said Latif. “We work hard together all season long trying to accomplish the same goals, and most important is caring about each other like one strong family. When I was down and struggling, I had my teammates and coaches to support me and help me get better every day on and off the court.”
“I still make sure to stay in touch with them and wish them luck before games, because that’s my family that I lived with for 4 years during my college basketball career in the States,”he said.
After his SHU basketball days finished, Mostafa went back to Egypt, where he found himself more in control of his destiny, and appreciative of all the gifts given to him at Sacred Heart.
“I’m currently playing professional basketball in for Alexandria Sporting Club, which is the best team in Egypt and defending champs 3 years in a row,” said Latif. “We won Egypt’s Cup in February and now we’re in the playoffs hoping we can win the whole thing for the 4th year in a row.”
His goals have continued to mount and become more challenging, but he now knows nothing is impossible.
“I’m hoping to join the Egyptian national team this summer for the African Championship Tournament that qualifies for the 2016 Olympics in Rio,” said Latif.
In the midst of a title chase, he recalls his favorite moments of playing in Egypt.
“My favorite moments playing in Egypt were being on the Egyptian National team and winning the African Championship,” Latif said.
The title was the Egyptians’ first in 20 years, and they beat Angola by two points in the title game to qualify for the World Championships in New Zealand.
“The other was when I was on the Egyptian National team and we beat China in double overtime,” he said. The Chinese had a few NBA players on that team.
“I always want people to remember me by my hard work and hustle on the court,” Latif said. “I know I’m not the best player in the world, but I always make sure I’ll do whatever it takes and work as hard as I can to be the best in what I do.”
Throughout his career at Sacred Heart, and now in Egypt, Latif’s stats have spoken for themselves.
This story of triumph has given us at least one lesson to take away about Mostafa Abdel Latif…don’t give up on your dreams because something happened, but keep trying and soon you’ll be where you were destined to land.
For more on Mostafa check out his Student-Athlete of the week interview during his senior season: