From ‘war zone’ of Cairo to sunshine of Florida prep basketball stardom

Prep Rally
7-foot-1 Anas Osama Mahmoud moved from Cairo this past summer -- Orlando Sentinel
7-foot-1 Anas Osama Mahmoud moved from Cairo this past summer -- Orlando Sentinel

At 7-foot-1, Anas Osama Mahmoud can already see more than the average 18-year-old, and that's not the best thing when your formative years are spent in a country in revolt.

Osama Mahmoud is from Cairo, the Egyptian capital city described as "a war zone" at various points over the last several years, including this past summer, when the budding basketball star received an offer to play basketball at Orlando's West Oaks Academy.

Naturally, he leapt at the chance, a story captured wonderfully by the Orlando Sentinel.

"Sometimes, the cops or the soldiers (would) just fire on anybody in the streets," Osama Mahmoud told the Sentinel. "My brother was out playing a game and he called me and said, 'I can't move, something is going on.' In this moment, you're thinking about yourself and (your) brother. I can run, but my brother is in the middle of it. I had to go grab him."

The prep senior center joined the Flame after playing the last several years for Egypt's 17U and 19U national teams, but his family -- parents, two older sisters and a 6-foot-8 "little" brother he hopes joins him at West Oaks Academy next season -- all reportedly remain in Cairo amidst the revolution. And that doesn't rest lightly on his high shoulders.

"It is not safe, but sometimes you feel like, 'This is my country, I have to live through this to improve my country,'" Osama Mahmoud told the Sentinel, revealing that the violence claimed a close friend and telling his current teammates he feared for his own life. "But sometimes, too, you have to look at your future. You don't know what's happening tomorrow, what's going to happen, who's going to win. The country is no good right now."

And the future is bright for Osama Mahmoud, a three-star recruit who already owns scholarship offers from Arizona State, Auburn, Cincinnati, Dayton, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Minnesota, N.C. State and Texas A&M. He plans to commit in the spring.

According to, "Those who have already seen him report back that his seven-foot size is legit and that he is a very skilled player. He can face the basket and shoot, handles the ball well and has a good overall feel for the game." All of which is surprising, considering he apparently couldn't play basketball for months at a time in Cairo.

Although, he claimed he picked up the game from YouTube videos of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and James Harden. See, Osama Mahmoud really does see everything.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Prep Rally on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow Prep Rally on Twitter!

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