Ali Farokhmanesh goes from big-time to Prime Time

BY BEN SCHUFF | JULY 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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Around 15 months ago, Ali Farokhmanesh was the most well-known athlete in the state of Iowa.

The then-Northern Iowa guard graced the cover of Sports Illustrated after leading the Panthers to an upset of No. 1-seeded Kansas in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

But now, about the only people aware of his March Madness heroics are those he plays with.

“A few people, every once in a while, will come up to me,” Farokhmanesh said. “Most of my teammates know about it. When I go through the [handshake] lines after games, some guys will say some things.”

The 23-year-old spent his first professional season overseas playing for SAM Basket Massagno in Switzerland’s top professional league, the LNA. The Iowa City West product said the style of basketball is much different in Switzerland, but it didn’t take him very long to adjust.

“Everybody is a shooter out there,” he said. “You usually have four guys on the court at once who can shoot the 3-pointer — if not five — so it really spreads the floor out.

“It’s a different style of game, with a lot more pick-and-rolls. It’s much more fast-paced. [All the shooters] spread the defense, and it makes you have to work a little harder on defense, too.”

Farokhmanesh said the officiating was the hardest thing he had to adjust to, noting there are many calls referees make in Europe that they don’t make here.

“Their traveling is different,” he said. “You can’t really catch and sweep the ball, you have to put the ball down right away when you get it. That’s probably the biggest thing, because it takes away your first step.”

Despite the differences, the first-year pro was very successful as his squad’s starting point guard. He led his team in points (19.5), assists (3.1), and minutes played (33.9). His scoring efforts placed him sixth in the league, and he finished fifth in the league with 2.3 steals per game.

Eurobasket.com described Farokhmanesh as “a deft ball-handler with deadly NBA shooting range who can penetrate, pass, and score … Ali is an intelligent guard who is a reliable clutch-time shooter … He is a great passer and can use screens successfully and understands individual and team defense.”

At the end of the season, the website named him to the All-Swiss LNA first team.

This off-season, Farokhmanesh is focusing on his ball-handling and passing in order to become a better point guard. That’s the main reason, he said, he is playing in the Prime Time League.

So far, he appears to be improving quite well. Through five Prime Time contests, the 6-0 guard has a league-best 36 assists.

Prime Time Commissioner Randy Larson, who has known Farokhmanesh since the diminutive point guard’s days at West High, had high praise for the former Trojan, calling him a “throwback” and a “gym rat.”

“In the area of shooting the basketball, I don’t know if there’s ever been anyone any better,” Larson said. “If you give him an inch, he’s going to knock it down.”

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