Kareem South, a 2020 CEBL Champion with the Edmonton Stingers, reflects on his experience over the summer at the CEBL Summer Series. What was a very uncertain year for many hoopers across the country, the CEBL was able to provide an outlet for professionals with a competitive series over the course of 2 weeks.
These 2 weeks were South's first taste of professional play, coming off his senior year at the University of California. Below, South walks us through his experience, the most important lessons learned, and what he's working on off the court.
Being a rookie in the CEBL, what was the biggest difference in your first taste of professional play?
The biggest difference for me was the game speed and the talent level that you're playing against. Everyone on the court was accustomed to being the main guy at their colleges or their respective professional leagues, so being in that type of environment is pretty exciting.
Canadian basketball has grown so much over the years so it’s great to see the CEBL create opportunities for Canadians and other high caliber players to compete and showcase their talent.
How do you manage to stay prepared when the consistent PT might not be there like you're accustomed to?
As cliche as it sounds, trusting the process and doing whatever I can to help my team. I try to focus on the things I can control --- my attitude, my effort, being a good teammate, and I trust the work I put in so that when my opportunity comes, I’ll be ready for it.
As time went on, I was able to gain more trust from Coach Smalls and the coaching staff. I just tried to make the most of each opportunity, no matter the circumstance.
Who on your team has helped you the most adjust to professional play and how?
The veterans on my team played a huge part in getting me accustomed to the professional level. Our guards, Xavier and Adika, who are two experienced pro’s that have been through the fire and have proven what it takes to be effective at a high level, would often come to me with advice on different things they would see on the floor, or about life in general.
I have a lot of respect for the veterans on our team. They put their best foot forward every single day. In practice, and come game time.
What are the most important lessons on and off the court, from this summer that you will take with you moving forward?
I think the most important lesson for me was embracing the moment, wherever you are. I remember right before the pandemic hit, we had just beat Stanford in the first round of the PAC-12 tournament in Las Vegas. Our team had the expectation that we would beat UCLA next in the second round and continue to make a deep run in the tournament, and then the day after we got the news that the season was cancelled.
So it just goes to show you that life as we know it can change on a dime and as much as we plan for the future, we can never be 100% about what’s in store for us.
A huge part of the journey is discovering the power of the present moment. Sometimes going with the flow is a part of the process. Don’t devalue it. And have faith. That’s actually what it’s all about.
What are some of your passions/projects/school aspirations off the court moving forward?
Right now I am currently in the process of completing my Master’s Degree in Public Health at UC-Berkeley. There’s a lot of dynamic work going on in the field, especially in advancing social change and building health equity.
I am fascinated by the promotion of mental health and psychological well being and its intersection with public policy and healthcare reform. We hear the phrase “it’s all mental” in sports, but in reality this applies to every aspect of our lives. So I think it’s great to see that it is becoming a priority in healthcare.
My aspiration is to help bridge those gaps and create opportunities for people to invest into their well being. I have always wondered about ways that I could help people and make a difference, and I think with what we see happening in our world, I’m inspired to create a path to make that future a reality.
Kareem South Bio:
2020 CEBL Champion: Edmonton Stingers
2019 All-Southland Third Team
2019 All-Southland Academic Second Team
2018 All-Southland Academic First Team
2018 D1-AAA ADA Scholar Athlete
Keep up to date with Kareem's Journey on his instagram @kdotsouth
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