Taking the US high school route - with Sam Alajiki - Ep. 94 - Hoopsfix.com

Taking the US high school route – with Sam Alajiki – Ep. 94

For Episode 94 of the Hoopsfix podcast, we sit down with St Benedicts prep wing and Cal commit, Sam Alajiki.

Alajiki left the UK in January of 2020, where he had started the season with Barking Abbey having initially been developed by Kent Crusaders, to attend Beckley Prep in Virginia.

After a half season there – which was cancelled due to COVID – he made the switch to St Benedicts in New Jersey, but not before committing to PAC-12 side Cal, becoming the third British-developed player in the Class of 2021 to sign with a high major programme.

The 6’7″ small forward with a 7’2″ wingspan and 44 inch max vertical, jumped on the Hoopsfix podcast to discuss his journey so far, being intent on taking the US High School route, and his aspirations for the future.


00:00 Intro
03:10 Interview start
03:16 Alajiki’s American accent
04:33 Sam’s upbringing in Ireland and how he ended up in England
08:07 Making the decision to focus on basketball over football
09:13 Whether the move from Ireland to England was difficult
10:36 The role of Jesse Sazant, Adam Davies on his early stages
11:50 How Sam was difficult as a younger player
12:34 How he matured
13:48 When he started taking basketball seriously
14:17 His involvement with the England U15 development programme
16:00 His initial focus on representing England/GB then that becoming Ireland
17:31 His relationships that are still in Ireland
18:10 His early aspirations in the sport
19:13 Wanting to prove himself to Coach Jesse Sazant
20:06 Sam’s physical gifts and matching the skills to them
22:25 Finding his shot and working on his jump shot
23:14 Deciding to make the switch to Barking Abbey for year 12
23:48 Being intent on going to the US
24:54 Why he felt the need to go to the US for HS rather than stay in the UK
26:59 Why his visa was denied in Year 10
27:19 Concerns about his eligibility
27:38 Why choosing to go to Barking Abbey from Canterbury
28:18 Leaving Barking Abbey midway through the season
29:57 Coaches from the US getting in his ear
30:30 Having D1 options in the UK already and still wanting to go to the US
31:36 Whether he has any regrets on the route he took
32:17 If Barking Abbey was the step up he wanted in the UK
33:33 Whether he ever felt out of his depth in the UK
34:43 US High school vs NBL D1 men
37:35 Whether the ultimate allure to the US is exposure and coaches wanting to see prospects against US competition
39:37 The transition to the US from England
42:20 How quickly the college interest came when going to the US
44:06 The Xs and Os in the US compared to England
45:12 2019-20 season being cancelled, staying in the US last summer
46:09 Making the decision to commit to Cal early
46:42 Why he chose Cal, who else he was looking at
47:42 The role he sees himself having at Cal
48:45 Is the goal to be a professional basketball player?
49:01 Choosing a bigger school over a smaller one
50:44 Switching to St Benedicts this season
52:51 Status of their current season
55:03 The impact of COVID-19 on the Class of 2021
57:58 How Cal are anticipating the 2021-22 season being
59:53 Whether he’s coming back to the UK this summer
59:29 His NBA aspirations and potential barriers
1:00:57 His favourite basketball memory
1:02:27 Feedback on the Hoopsfix All-Star Classic
1:05:15 best British player he’s played with or against
1:06:18 best individual performance he’s witnessed
1:07:05 His basketball role models
1:08:50 His goals for the next 3-5 years


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