TORONTO – No matter where we are in the World, and no matter how old we get, we’ll always find a way home.
For SAIT Trojans fifth-year guard Amin Suleman, the 2022 CCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship is a moment that brings his basketball career back to where it all began. A native of Toronto, Suleman will close his post-secondary career where he first learned to love the game at a young age.
Right back at home.
Growing up in Toronto, Suleman developed a love for the game of basketball at a young age. From watching March Madness and U SPORTS basketball on a yearly basis, Suleman made it a goal of his own to one day play at the post-secondary level. Even before he graduated elementary school, Suleman had the belief in himself that he would one day play university basketball in Canada.
Suleman attended the Central Toronto Academy (CTA) and played under Adeel Sahibzada with Bigger Than Basketball where he was the 2015 Student-Athlete of the Year. After playing for two of the top basketball programs in the Toronto area, Suleman’s dream of playing post-secondary basketball was realized shortly thereafter.
In August of 2015, late in the recruiting season, Suleman’s commitment was announced. However, it wasn’t exactly close to home.
Suleman committed to the University of Prince Edward Island, which is just shy of 1,700 kilometers away from CTA.
Still, his dream of playing university basketball had been realized. So, Suleman packed up and moved to the East Coast to continue the pursuit of his basketball dreams. He ended up spending a total of four seasons with the Panthers.
During his four seasons with the Panthers, Suleman’s family and friends weren’t able to watch him play in-person due to him being a 16-hour drive away on the East Coast. They had to rely on live streams to catch any of his games which helped to bridge the gap, but it was nothing compared to watching him play live.
Suleman’s last season with the Panthers came in 2018-19. He didn’t play during the 2019-20 season, and then the Global Covid-19 pandemic struck and there was no basketball the following season.
With one year of eligibility left to his credit, Suleman was looking for one last chance to close his post-secondary career.
Fast forward to the 2021-22 season, and Suleman was back on the hardwood for year five. Suleman committed to Head Coach Marty Birky and the Trojans in October, along with former UNB Reds guard Marcus Masters.
“SAIT has history,” said Suleman. “It was an easy choice knowing that SAIT is a winning program and knowing we have a great chance of competing at Nationals in Toronto.”
“I just knew that it was a great fit.“
The opportunity to compete for a National Championship and to hopefully play close to home to close his post-secondary career was enticing for Suleman. Add in SAIT’s recent stranglehold on the ACAC playoffs, and it seemed like a perfect fit for Suleman. Heading into the 2021-22 season, the Trojans were the four-time defending ACAC Champions, and Suleman looked to help them make it a fifth.
After the Trojans finished atop the ACAC South Division standings in the regular season, they controlled their own destiny when it came to returning to Nationals. The South Division was the host for the ACAC Final Four, which ultimately led to Suleman and the Trojans hosting the semifinals and finals on their home floor.
In the ACAC Gold Medal Game, the Trojans knocked off the previously unbeaten Keyano College Huskies to punch their fifth straight ticket to Nationals, giving Suleman the chance to close his career back at home in the process.
“It’s funny because I told my friends and family when I committed to SAIT that I’m going to be back in March for Nationals,” said Suleman, smiling. “Now that we’re here, the only thing left to do is go win a Championship.”
Spoke it into existence.
Now that the Trojans are in Toronto and are gearing up for their quarter-final match-up on Friday night, Suleman’s basketball career has come full circle. He now has the opportunity to close his career in the city where it all started.
Suleman grew up watching the national tournaments in the United States and Canada, all while dreaming of one day having the opportunity to compete for a title of his own. He gets to do that this weekend.
The best part of it all? His family and friends can be there to support, something they haven’t been able to do much of to this point in his collegiate career.
“I played four years at UPEI, and my family and friends couldn’t come out and watch me play out there,” concluded Suleman. “Now that my friends and family can come out and watch me play in my last post-secondary season to end my career is huge for me.”
“It means the World to me.”
The World has a weird way of working itself out and bringing everything full-circle.
For Suleman, his basketball journey comes full circle this weekend as he has returned home for one last run.
Suleman and the Trojans will face off against the Filons de Thetford at 8:00 p.m. EST on Friday night in their CCAA Quarter-Final contest.
- T. Bennett