There are a number of teams in the East Region of this yearâ€™s NCAA menâ€™s basketball tournament that are sporting Muslim basketball players. The only head-to-head matchup of Muslim talent in this region involves Syracuse University and Montana University. Traditional power Syracuse boasts Baye Keita, a 6â€™10â€ junior center from Senegal. While the underdog Montana Grizzlies are led by 6â€™5 junior wing player Kareem Jamar from Venice, California. Syracuse is the number 4 seed in the region, while Montana is the number 13 seed.
The next highest seeded team in the region with a Muslim player is the seventh-seeded University of Illinois team. Ibrahima â€œIbbyâ€ Djimde may not get much playing time currently. But the 6â€™8â€ sophomore forward continues to adjust to American basketball after coming over from Mali during high school. One Muslim player that is not technically assured yet of a spot in the actual tournament is Alioune Diouf of James Madison University. James Madison has to take part in a play-in game against Long Island University at Brooklyn for the right to face number one overall seed Indiana University. Diouf is a 6â€™5â€ senior guard from Georgia.
Finally, there is the interesting story of Davidson University forward Youssef Mejri. Mejri moved to the United States from Tunisia as a teenager to pursue his academic and sports dreams. He enrolled at a prep school in Southern California, only to be dismissed in less than a month due to administrative politics. He landed on his feet, however, at another local prep school. And now the sophomore is part of a 26-7 Davidson team that faces Marquette in the first round of the tournament.