November 24, 2008 · Updated 5:41 PM
As a teenager in Berlin, Raed Mostafa thought he was the king of most basketball courts.
Then reality hit ... in the form of big brother Rashed.
Rashed was Raed's basketball influence growing up and Rashed eventually went to play junior college basketball in Seattle. When Rashed came home from school, he gave younger brother Raed a hard lesson.
“I was maybe 15 and I thought I was the man,” Raed recalled. “But he came back and kicked my butt. Like 21-0. I knew I had to work harder.”
Raed Mostafa's work eventually paid off. Following a two-year stint at North Dakota State College of Science, the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Mostafa signed with the Hilltoppers.
Mostafa, who averaged 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds last year, is expected to contribute immediately.
But WKU coach Darrin Horn doesn't want to pigeonhole him into one position, either.
“He's got great versatility and I know I say that a lot, but it's important with the way we play,” Horn said. “He can play around the basketball against guys that are bigger than him. He can step out and do things on the perimeter.
“He has the ability to do so many things. Some of what we do with him is going to depend on what everybody else is doing, too.”
According to Mostafa, he mostly played at small forward during his time in North Dakota and said that's where he feels most comfortable.
That doesn't mean he isn't willing to make some changes.
“Wherever they need me, I can fill in,” Mostafa said. “If they need me to guard a ‘4' or ‘5,' I can do that, if they need me to play the point - no problem.”
Mostafa's game has grown plenty since originally taking up basketball at age 12.
Mostafa practiced with club teams in Germany and although he had a height advantage, he didn't have a skill advantage.
“To be honest, I was kind of bad in the beginning,” Mostafa said. “I couldn't move my body. I was taller than the other guys, but I couldn't find a rhythm and move around.”
It didn't stop Mostafa from working at his game.
“I was ambitious right away,” Mostafa said. “I canceled a lot of private stuff like hanging out with my friends because I knew this was what I wanted to do. I knew it right away.”
Mostafa, now 22, eventually gained plenty of experience in his 10 years of playing basketball. He played on Germany's U-18 and U-20 junior national teams.
Now Horn says Mostafa's maturity is one of his strengths.
“His maturity will serve him well,” Horn said. “And he's got a great feel for the game and great instincts. He knows when to do things without necessarily being taught it.”
Mostafa has been busy since arriving at Western. Most newcomers arrived in July, but Mostafa spent the summer in Germany. Mostafa arrived at Western last week.
While in Germany this summer, Mostafa landed a ticket for the World Cup soccer final between France and Italy, took a trip to Egypt where his parents are originally from and also visited family.
Mostafa also saw his brother, now working as a chauffeur in Germany. And yes, Raed can now beat his brother, although somewhat by default. According to Raed, brother Rashed had to quit the game because of a shoulder injury.
“I've always looked up to him,” Raed said. “He was pretty good and I've always wanted to be that good. I've been really, really focused to do that.”