AJ Basi, University of Manitoba Commit: Family and Culture

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Winnipeg, MB–AJ Basi is consistently looking to improve his game for the next level at the University of Manitoba, while remaining close to his family.

Not only is family a big deal for the Sturgeon Heights senior, but culture as well. Amarjit, otherwise referred to as “AJ” is of East-Indian descent and fully embraces his Sikh heritage. If you glance at the ink on his body, you can get a sense of it. On his arm, he has a tattoo that is the “Sikh Khanda” a symbol of the Sikh religion. He also has a tattoo of the meaning of his name: Amarjit, translating to “Forever Victorious” on the same arm.

After a confusing recruiting process, AJ decided on the University of Manitoba and felt it would be best to stay home where most of his family and friends are. Other scools interested included the University of Winnipeg (CIS), Comusun, (Victoria, BC, CCAA) Macalester (Minneapolis, NCAA D3) 

“I wasn’t really too fond of leaving, and my family and parents didn’t really want me to go away. There were a few letters and I had my choices and stuff, but I decided to go to Manitoba because I knew the Coach and I know a lot of the players on the team.”

AJ wanted to make sure that his recruiting decision was one that was well thought out as well as the right one. 

“It was a bit confusing, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had to figure out my school and applying to get my grades up… it was pretty stressful. I decided to wait until after the basketball season to figure it all out.”

One of the pull factors for deciding on Manitoba was Coach Kirby Schepp. AJ has had a long and positive relationship with coach Schepp.

“He has coached my brother and cousin for a few years now and I have known him since middle school.”

Schepp has redefined the U of M Bison’s, getting them into the playoffs the past year in an extremely difficult CANWEST conference which represented very well with UBC, Saskatchewan and Trinity Western on the CIS national stage.

AJ is positive that Schepp is taking the team in the right direction.

“I think that before Schepp they had trouble, but since Schepp they made the playoffs, and we are a young group so we are going to get better together.”

Family is one thing that AJ is extremely concerned with. His brother and cousins have all taken similar paths with basketball, staying in the city of Winnipeg and playing all five years, while achieving their degrees.

“I want to play all five years, and having my cousins play here [for five years] and becoming starters, makes me want to [do the same] and become a solid starter in my later years.”

AJ is excited for next season to begin his university basketball career. 

He will be taking U1 (general course) in his first year but thinks he will follow in the footsteps of his family either taking teaching or social work as most of his family have pursued careers in those fields.

The summer will consist of hard work and preparation for the upcoming season.

“ [It’s about] not getting lazy and getting better…I have to work hard and put some size on.”

AJ will be joining a young Bison’s team that is looking to build on last year’s playoff appearance in a very tough CANWEST conference.

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