In 2017, UTM entered its fourth sport in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association: men’s and women’s varsity basketball. The basketball program’s debut brought with it a set of growing pains, but it nonetheless developed to produce exceptional athletes.
On Saturday November 30, 2019, in a rough loss to the Loyalist College Knights, number 12 Zamam Khan made program history, becoming the first UTM varsity basketball athlete to reach 1,000 career points.
There was high energy to start the contest for both teams. The Knights broke the ice first, going on a 7-1 that forced the Eagles into an early time-out. Out of the time-out UTM couldn’t contain the Knights. Defensively, UTM was a step too late. The late defensive pressure against the crisp ball movement of the Knights led to open threes. The Eagles moved the ball, got a couple of great looks at the basket, but weren’t able to score. Missed calls by the officials and missed open shots gave the Knights the 12-23 lead over UTM.
The Eagles began the second quarter with a full-court pressure defence, forcing early turnovers from the Knights. Despite the increased defensive pressure, UTM wasn’t able to get anything in a set offence but made up for it in transition points. The Knights played more disciplined than UTM, moving the ball and out-rebounding the Eagles. Number zero Kyle Boorman grabbed a rebound and put it back up just as the buzzer sounded to end the first half. In a low scoring first half, Eagles were down 25-39 to the visiting Knights, with Zamam just two points away from a spectacular milestone.
UTM was more aggressive to start the second half, but they still weren’t able to hit open shots. While the Eagles struggled to see the ball go through the hoop, the Knights put on a shooting exhibition hitting almost every shot. Transition offence put UTM on a 6-0 run, but the Knights weathered the onslaught and their lead blew to 20. With 4:15 left in the quarter, Zamam ran the length of the court for a layup at the other end, becoming the first UTM varsity basketball athlete to reach 1,000 career points. The basket brought fans and the UTM bench to their feet, and sparked life into the dry Eagle offence. A suffocating zone press forced the Knights into turnovers. UTM took advantage of the situation and went on a 10-0 run to end the half. The run closed out the quarter with UTM down 12, 52-64.
Number 15 guard-forward Shaquille David took a charge to start the final quarter. The Eagles found their offensive rhythm and cut the Knights’ lead, 59-64. But UTM couldn’t maintain the increased efficiency for long. They got sloppy and turned the ball over. As the clock winded down UTM had little energy left for one more push. A historic night for UTM and Zamam ended in a blowout: 82-60 for the Loyalist Knights.
Khan, who has accumulated a number of accolades, wasn’t too down after the loss. As a rookie during the 2017-2018 season, and UTM’s basketball program introduction, Khan led the league in points and in defensive rebounds—496 and 182 respectively. He was second in the league in both rebounds and field goal percentage—244 and 37 percent respectively. After an impressive season performance, Khan was awarded Rookie of the Year, West Division Rookie of the Year, West Division Scoring Champion, OCAA Second Team All-Star and West Division All-Rookie Team.
In his third year with the program, Khan continues to be a strong presence. He now leads the league in assists currently with 52, shooting 38 percent from the field and averaging nearly 39 minutes a game. Already one of the most decorated male athletes UTM has ever had, Khan adds to his legacy with 1000 career points scored.
Third year UTM men’s varsity basketball head coach, Nkosi Adams, spoke nothing but praise for Zamam and this achievement.
“It has been a pleasure coaching Zamam the past three years. He is very deserving of this achievement. When the program started, we talked to the players about having the opportunity to be in the history books. It is no surprise that Zamam is the first to do so. He has always represented the program with high character on and off the court. Our staff, student body, and his teammates are very happy for him. I’m glad that his friends and family were able to share this amazing accomplishment with him,” shared Adams.
Khan himself is no doubt proud of the achievement, but also hopes the achievement inspires others. “It’s an honour to be the first to ever reach this milestone. All glory is to God and I hope it inspires future athletes at UTM to work hard and create their own achievements,” said Khan.
Despite a historic night, the UTM Eagles end 2019 and the first half of the season with a loss, but nevertheless look forward to a more successful 2020.