Moving forward no matter what

Senior athlete reflects on his long journey to SPU

Gabe Sta Maria, Staff Reporter

Senior Sharif Khan on the stairs prior to the team’s walk through at Royal Brougham before the Central Washington game last Saturday. (Jacky Chen)

Fifth year senior Sharif Khan has always been one to accept a challenge. Particularly in the sport of basketball, Khan has always carried confidence in his success. When Khan was in grade school he played on his AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball team where he took the sport of basketball seriously. This would ultimately pave the way to his path onto Seattle Pacific University’s men’s basketball team.

“Third grade is when [basketball] really got serious. It was still pretty young but it started getting really competitive,” said Khan. “My coach was really tough and he put us in the toughest tournaments we could find and we would always play up age groups.”

Khan always believed in himself even at a young age. He always knew he had the confidence and ability to play at a high level whether it be messing around in his backyard or at a local park.

Playing basketball in middle school would eventually take him to Bellevue High School. Although his time playing in high school came with some obstacles his freshman year, Khan reflects how that didn’t stop him.

“In the middle of [freshman year], I fractured my ankle,” said Khan. “I was confident, I had a really quick recovery, and when I came back the strength wasn’t there, but I was just happy I could play on it, and as long as I could play I knew I could do what I could.”

Khan played on the varsity basketball team freshman through senior year and was a part of three state tournament teams his sophomore, junior and senior year. He was also first team All-Conference as a junior and senior. Prior to accomplishing these accolades, Khan describes finding his role on the court as a young player.

“I played a lot of point guard in Bellevue and also some shooting guard. I would say my role was to make plays, whether that be scoring some nights or getting others involved,” said Khan. “I tried to facilitate as much as I could to get my teammates involved and to make them better.”

Khan also described the process of growing as a player and gaining his coach’s trust in high school.

“I was pretty nervous going into freshman year, but in my sophomore year, my coach had confidence I would knock down shots and I would get the pass to my teammate, even if it was a little unorthodox,” said Khan. “I think sophomore year was when I started to get that green light to do what I felt comfortable doing.”

Khan’s main goal was to play basketball in college. Knowing he had the confidence and ability to play at that higher level, he began taking the next steps.

Seattle Pacific Falcons took on Central Washington, Sharif Khan took part with two 3-pointers, 2 steals, and 2 assist. (Jacky Chen)

“I think it was around junior year when colleges started to reach out, so I think that was when I started talking to a few schools,” said Khan. “That continued up until senior year and at the beginning of my senior year before basketball season started when I decided I was going to come here to SPU.

When Khan visited SPU while still in high school. He really enjoyed meeting the people he met from SPU, especially Head Coach Grant Leep, who was assistant coach at the time him and Khan met. Khan also loved the area of Seattle because he could stay close to home and close to his family.

Like Khan’s time in Bellevue, his transition from high school to college was a unique experience. He recounts the time when he knew he was playing at a different level with more skilled competition.

“I remember we played BYU (Brigham Young University) at their home court,” said Khan. “I remember seeing their big man on the court when I was on the court and the dude was just nasty. He was huge, strong and throwing down some vicious dunks. ‘This isn’t high school, there are grown men out here.’”

A major part of Khan’s experience at SPU is his relationship with the head coach of men’s basketball, Grant Leep.

“His first year as head coach was my first year at SPU and so we’ve all grown immensely the past five years,” said Khan. “Leep has really made it clear that he’s not just a basketball coach, he’s here to make us better men.”

Khan can still play an additional season for SPU basketball as he is still in the process of obtaining his masters in data analytics. He currently is exploring his options for what the future consists of as he takes this year and next year to figure out what he really wants to pursue after college.