Alaa Abdelnaby was an unusual Blue Devil.
First, he is almost certainly the only Egyptian to ever play in the ACC and if he’s not, then he’s surely the only native of Alexandria to play in the conference (Egypt, not Virginia).
Second, when he got to Duke, he was obviously talented, but he was strikingly immature. That’s not so unusual. Lots of college freshmen are immature. But he was clearly immature and took a while to grow up.
He also partied pretty heavily. It’s again not unusual for a college player to party; it is a bit surprising for a Muslim.
He managed to drive his car into a tree at one point and when he talked about Duke academics, he hilariously said ”the only way I can make five A’s is when I sign my name.”
But he matured eventually and by his senior year, he was a reliable player and became a first round draft pick.
But it took a while. As Coach K, said, everyone runs their own race.
In this interview with Andre Dawkins, Abdelnaby talks about getting to Duke, learning how to deal with Coach K, and mentoring Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley. And interestingly, he says that helping those guys, really helped him to become a better player and man. Good stuff here.