By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are some names in Minnesota basketball that just jump off the page. Khalid El-Amin is definitely one of those names.

That’s why it’s such a big deal that he’s back where it all began.

“Every time I walk into the gymnasium — as you see it’s a game tonight, and you can start to smell the popcorn, it brings back a lot of goosebumps in me,” he said.

The name Khalid El-Amin gets plenty of Minnesota basketball fans flooded with memories of one of the best this state’s ever seen. He led Minneapolis North to three straight state titles, went on to U-Conn to win a national title, was a second-round pick by the Chicago Bulls and played professionally around the world for 15 years.

Now, he’s back home.

“For me it was a easy choice,” he said. “Being that I’m not playing anymore, and wanting to be around the game, what better place to start coaching other than the high school in which I attended?”

El-Amin is back at Minneapolis North this season as an assistant coach, working daily with a talented group of kids who know well who he is, even if they never saw him play.

“I tell them all the time, ‘Just go to YouTube and YouTube me,'” he said. “I try to speak their language from now on.”

Which might be what makes him such an effective coach — he does speak their language. Not only does what he says have a lot of credibility because of his own success, but he can relate to them.

“Me being from here and have done that, it’s just kind of a motivation for them to work hard and to give their best in the classroom, to accomplish those goals,” El-Amin said. “And for me to help them reach that, and try to give them some pointers to where, some of the things that I did in high school that I try to help them with their role, it’s just a great feeling.”

It’s a feeling, he says, that comes from his own history.

“They can reach and touch me,” El-Amin said. “And knowing that I’m from the same neighborhood as them, it’s just a reminder that they can do whatever they put their mind to.”

As long as they don’t make the mistake of thinking the old man’s lost a step.

“I tell them relax, it’s a long season, they all will get their shot. But I don’t think they’re gonna be happy in getting their shot. They’re gonna see that this older guy can still play a little bit, can still move,” El-Amin said. “When we get out there on the court, I take no prisoners. I really take it to them, and I let them know that, ‘You still have a long way to go, young guy.'”

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