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Guess what, hoop fans — he’s back

El-Amin will be playing in

Star of the North

By Pat Ruff

pruff@postbulletin.com

Brett Boese watched point guard Khalid El-Amin work his speed-demon, magic basketball act against Rochester Mayo in 1996 and ‘97. El-Amin’s breathtaking Minneapolis North teams eliminated the Spartans in the first round of the state tournament both years.

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Boese was an eighth-grader that first year, and one season away from being a Mayo varsity basketball starter the second.

"I just remember El-Amin getting wherever he wanted to go on the basketball court," Boese said.

Now, 10 years later, Boese may get his first-ever chance to take the slightest poke at the bragging rights of El-Amin, who has played on some of the grandest of basketball stages, including leading his University of Connecticut team to the 1999 national championship.

Well, what’s coming today through Sunday in Rochester will hardly make El-Amin forget that NCAA Tournament. But some fairly solid competition does seem to be looming for him, as El-Amin — like Boese —is entered in the Star of the North Games men’s basketball tournament.

Boese’s team, called "Boese’s Boys," is the defending Star of the North Games champion. They are mostly a collection of former Gustavus College (St. Peter, Minn.) players. One of the exceptions is 6-7 Matt Schlenker, a former high school teammate of Boese’s. Schlenker played his college basketball at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

El-Amin is believed to be the only player in the tournament fresh off a season of playing professional basketball. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound El-Amin played in a Ukranian league in 2006-07. His Star of the North team is called "Old School," and possesses not just one former Division I college player, but two. Also a member of "Old School" is Johnnie Gilbert, a 6-foot-8 forward who played at the University of Oklahoma, and before that Minneapolis Patrick Henry.

Boese has a more direct tie to him. Boese and Gilbert were roommates for a couple of days while playing in a high school all-star series in 2000.

Boese, a powerful 6-foot-5 forward, would love the chance to play against El-Amin, as well as reunite acquaintances with Gilbert. The only potential problem with it, he says, is that his "Boese’s Boys" are a bunch of former Division III guys. There is a large difference between Division I and Division III, and he knows it.

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"We aren’t going to back down from them if we play them," Boese said. "But I don’t know that we’d match up with them very well. Whether we can compete with them depends on who is on the rest of their roster."

"Old School" player/manager Ken Barber says his team does have at least one more dominant player, Orieon Thurston. Thurston, originally from Florida, was a standout guard at St. Cloud State in the early 1990s.

"Old School" kicks off its tournament play at 6:30 p.m. today at UCR Regional Sports Center. "Boese’s Boys" play immediately after at 7:45 p.m.

If both teams go on to win their pools, they would meet in the championship game at 2:45 p.m. Sunday at UCR Regional Sports Center.

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