Nasser Al-Rayes spent two summers with the Global Squad (’12-’13). He finished his Global Squad career 6th on the all-time list in rebounds and 2nd in blocked shots. This past summer Nasser was named to the Academic Elite All-Star Team. He also had the best games of his career and posted fantastic stat-lines vs DC Hoyas and Jamesville DeWitt.
To this date Nasser is one of the most heavily recruited players to ever attend the Global Squad. It’s not surprising as to why. His 6’9 height and 220 pound frame made him an obvious target for college basketball coaches. Add to that, excellent mobility and athleticism and we’re talking about a potential monster at the D-III level. Haverford College, MIT, Wesleyan University, Williams College, and Colorado School of Mines were all potential destinations for Nasser. In the end Cal Tech was the big winner as Nasser chose to take his talents to Pasadena, CA.
Nasser took the time to speak with us about his early college experience, the rigorous academics at Cal Tech, and his lofty goals for the basketball program. This interview and talk of “dynasty” got the Global Squad staff fired up and excited for the coming season. Enjoy!
|ABA:||What made you want to attend Cal Tech?|
|There are many factors that led to my final decision. Despite having some very strong offers from many schools across the country, what it all came down to was this team’s desire to be great. I had the ability to join some very historically strong teams, but the idea of starting a legacy at Caltech made it an offer I could not turn down. With the addition of the very talented and versatile Lawrence Lee, on top of other skilled bigs and guards, choosing Caltech was definitely the best decision.
|ABA:||Are you excited to play basketball with Global Squad teammate, Lawrence?|
|I am very excited to reunite with my teammate. We have a chemistry that I did not have with any other players coming into Caltech. Plus, I knew Lawrence’s contributions to any team would be phenomenal, so being able to play with as skilled a player as Lawrence would elevate both the team’s ability and mine.
|ABA:||What is your role going to be on the Cal Tech team this season?|
|As with any player my size, I am looking to get every rebound and protect the paint as much as possible. I am looking to be a strong role player in the 5 position, scoring when I can, but mainly keeping the number of points scored in the paint to as little as possible and grabbing as many boards on either side of the court.|
|ABA:||What has stood out at the difference in competition overseas and here in the U.S?|
|The pace and physicality of the game. People are a lot more athletic over here, meaning you must be much more settled when on offense and a lot more aware when on defense. Since the pace is so quick over here, offenses can tend to get discombobulated, so I had to learn to be patient yet sharp in whatever I did on offense, while constantly reading cuts, screens, etc. while on defense, not to mention being able to take hits and blows in the post.|
|ABA:||Are the training and practice sessions tough?|
|They can be tough, depending on the day. Before scrimmages or games, our practices are lighter to keep our legs fresh for game day. However, earlier in the week, our drills involve lots of running and test our cardio abilities to get us into shape. We have quick, but hard and intense lifting sessions almost every practice and we run through drills that constantly simulate game situations. We are always expected to run our plays correctly and execute perfectly, no matter what pressure is on us. We also have individual workouts with the coaches, where we can work with them when we are able to, but at least once a week. We usually watch film, seeing what we need to improve and then go down to the gym to practice the skills that will help us succeed on the court. These can be very intense, but are always very beneficial.
|ABA:||How did the Global Squad prepare you for the competition at Cal Tech?|
|Global Squad was my first true insight to organize American basketball, so it has prepared me very well to the competition at the collegiate level. The game is far more high paced physics, meaning my ability to combine quickness with patience is key to success. I have learned that being as mentally and physically strong as possible is extremely important to contributing positively when I’m on the court.
|ABA:||What has surprised you the most about college basketball?|
|Global Squad has really helped weave out any physical surprises in college basketball, such as all the running and lifting involved with it. My main surprise is honestly the logistics that go behind planning and scheduling a season. The amount of work our coach has put into our schedule, practice plans, stat lines, game film is more than I would’ve ever imagined.
|ABA:||Other than basketball, what do you like most about the “college life”?|
|As most would answer, it’s definitely the freedom. When you’re in college, there is no one telling you what your curfew is, when you should go to bed, when to do your homework, or how to manage your life in general. It’s up to you to sit down and grind out what you need to do in order to be successful, while having fun at the same time. Being able to plan out your weekends as you want (of course while scheduling around practice) is definitely a huge bonus.
|ABA:||How do you expect the team to do this season?|
|I expect to have a very solid record this season, definitely better than any Caltech has had in a long time. The amount of talent in this freshmen class along with very strong returning players will make this team one that will snag a lot of wins. Although we will have a lot of player development, since we do have a large freshmen class, many of us are mature and skilled enough to compete at this level, while still having more room to learn and improve that’ll help us dominate.
|ABA:||Are you happy with your decision to play basketball at Cal Tech?|
|Of course, I can’t imagine my life without it. Despite the rigorous academics making it hard to balance my time once in a while, playing basketball has brought much more joy into my life. Being able to spend time with friends and teammates on the court is something I look forward to for every practice and game. It’s such a great experience that I am very lucky to be apart of.
|ABA:||In 4-years, how would you hope to summarize your bball career at Cal Tech?|
|One word; dynasty. We want to start an unprecedented program here at Caltech, putting this team on the map. Our coach has been working to make this team one of the best in the country and we all know it’s only a matter of time when this happens.
|Nasser, thank you for taking to time to answer our questions. We share your optimism for the future of Cal Tech basketball. It’s going to be exciting to see how you, with the help of your teammates and coaches, make that program competitive regionally and nationally. Good luck this season!|