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Breaking Down Arsalan Kazemi

With Kentucky’s Football team currently struggling to find competence on the field, it’s nice to know that all is right in the world when it comes to our basketball program.  A sure sign that all is well with things on Avenue of Champions (besides the 8th national title) is the fact nearly all elite level players want to be a part of our tradition and success.  It’s no secret that elite level High School recruits want to suit up in blue and white, but also, others who are much older want to sport those colors as well.  One player who fits this later trend is the first native Iranian to ever play Division-1 College basketball, Arsalan Kazemi.  The Senior transfer from Rice (pursuing a hardship transfer) is currently looking for a place to call home for his Senior season and Kentucky just so happens to be one of his early favorites, alongside Oregon.  While it’s uncertain if he’ll ever sport Kentucky blue, it’s interesting to know how he could potentially fit in with a young Wildcat squad with questions looming.  So, to know for sure, I went back and examined his advanced stats to see just where he’d fit into the 2012-13 version of Wildcats.

First to acknowledge his basic numbers, Kazemi averaged 12.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game as a Junior at Rice, leading his team to a 19-16 record.  Those are obviously very good for a high level player, but they only tell part of the story. Numbers that tell a much more significant tale are his advanced stats which remove tempo and minutes played from the equation.  When these factors are removed we can tell just how efficient Kazemi was as an Owl. During his three seasons, he was the most efficient player at Rice in terms of Offensive Rating, finishing (last year) with a rating of 114.6 at 21.2% of possessions used (100.0 at 20% is considered average).  While that might not make much sense to someone who doesn’t study Offensive Ratings, here’s an advanced stat that will, Defensive Rebounding Percentage.  It’s simply a percentage of available defensive rebounds obtained while a player is in the game, below is a chart containing national leaders for 2011 and 2012.

As you can see, Kazemi is among the nation’s elite in obtaining defensive boards.  He’s right alongside the likes of Drew Gordon, Kenneth Faried, Drymond Green, and Thomas Robinson (certainly no slouches there).  The most encouraging thing about this is the fact he’s been consistently elite in this category, so it’s likely he would continue to rebound at a high level.

Another huge positive about Kazemi’s game is his ability to get to the free throw line, ranking 8th and 2nd nationally in Free Throw Rate the past two seasons. Free Throw Rate does nothing more than tell you how often a player gets to the line relative to how many shots he takes.  Something to prove this number is no fluke would be his fouls drawn per-40 minutes.  In 2011 he averaged a mind numbing 8.0 fouls drawn per 40 minutes, and in 2012 he got fouled 5.5 times per 40 minutes.  It’s highly encouraging to know a player can get opposing players in foul trouble at an efficient rate, especially in an age of thin rosters.

The numbers listed above like Defensive Rebounding Percentage and Fouls Drawn per 40 minutes are very telling about his game.  Typically a player who excels in these roles is an unsung workhorse who rarely gets the credit he deserves.  If he were to eventually suit up as a Wildcat he wouldn’t be a star or get many touches, as we have many high level scorers coming in who will fill those flashy roles, but he would be someone to guide the team with his Senior experiences and blue-collar mentality.

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

19 Comments for Breaking Down Arsalan Kazemi

  1. GoCats2
    12:14 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    Forgive me for being out of touch with recruiting lately but why is this guy applying for hardship and where would he fit in our frontcourt of Noel, Poythress, Cauley-Stein, and Wiltjer?

  2. dick gosinia
    12:21 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    Help me out here. How could he even transfer in and play this year? Classes have been going on for about a month and this guy hasn’t picked a school yet? I could see it 2-3 weeks ago but isn’t it too late for this semester?

  3. soup
    12:41 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    Free Enes

  4. GetcheeFayktsStraight
    12:45 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    He’s not supposed to be eligible until 2013 (the possible Harrison twins, Randle, Wiggins class). He’s not eligible for the upcoming season if he transfers. Ughhhhhhhhhhhh

  5. J
    12:46 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    Care to elaborate how and when this transfer could happen?

  6. Brow Down
    12:47 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    2 — I believe at UK he would have to join the team for the second semester or play a full year next year. Oregon, I believe, has not started class yet.

  7. dick gosinia
    12:55 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    4/6 – Thanks. I read “hardship transfer” and thought he was wanting/hoping to play this season.

  8. RICK
    12:57 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    We dont need this guy, let him go to any place but Ky.

  9. stfu
    1:07 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    To all the UK fans talking ignorance, yes we could use someone with game experience and we could aslo use 12ppg and 10 rpg so quit talking shit. If he comes poythress will move and play the 3 like he should be.

  10. the ghost of Bill Hicks
    1:13 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    8- So it’s OK if he ends up at UL? Share you thought process on that one for me.

  11. those spd guys
    2:21 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    Bad news registration for Oregon opens in the morning at 8:00 am tomorrow and classes don’t start until monday. Those are two, not so positive signs, of where he may end up.

  12. RICK
    2:37 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    10- Yeah its ok if he lands at L-ville, unlike you i quess i dont fear the cards.He played at RICE,10- you could score dbl figures for Rice. Not good enough to waste the scholarship.

  13. aCATSfan21
    2:48 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    You really should stop arguing…do you all think the NCAA (No Calipari Athletes Allowed) is going to let this kid have a hardship to play for UK? I doubt it…And has anyone heard news of Tony Trocha…I would much rather have that kid.

  14. Head Bussa
    2:50 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    7 — He is trying to get a “hardship transfer” so he can play this year. If not, he would be playing next year.
    8 — We do need this guy. A guy like this (who rebounds) will be very helpful next year. I hope you don’t want him just because of his nationality.

  15. Exposure
    2:53 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    Mark it down, he will be a KY Wildcat. Done Deal.

    Seriously, he wants exposure for the great nation of Iran. More people would learn about the peaceful people of Iran through him being on our team, than through Oregon. He WANTS to come here. The question is, does Cal want him, and what’s the deal? Will he sit out this semester and be eligible the next Semester???

  16. Kaboom
    3:04 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    8 and 12) How is it a waste? 1 year scholly and experience. Seems like a no brainer to anybody with basketball knowledge. Something tells me it’s because he is Iranian and that is the only reason you don’t want him. I am from the mountains but if this was a good ole’ boy from Hazard who was transferring from say Xavier you would absolute love it. The kid can rebound and put in an occasional basket and provide minutes off the bench then we need him.

  17. Mack
    3:18 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    Rice is like playing juco, it always seems to take at least a year if then for most of the jucos to contribute. Oregon would be his best choice if he wanted to play this season if he waited to play on next year’s team after a year under his belt with the CATS and Cal then it may be different.

  18. Beatle Bum
    4:11 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    Ala Kazemi!!!

  19. Hazard rules
    9:40 pm September 20, 2012 Permalink

    Tim Mcviegh was a American David Koresh was American. So just because the 911 attackers were from Middle east doesn’t make them all terrorist no more the the ones above make all Americans bad. If he can play bring him on just like big Enes. That being said to all those acting so smug can you honestly say you feel totally comfortable on a plane with a middle eastern person on board and you don’t think of terrorism when you see them. It just human nature right or wrong. Easy on people from Hazard we have a lot less racial problems then most of the state. Small town we all know each other past just the color of skin. There is racism here I’m sure, but for the most part people are treated the same way they treat other regardless of their skin color.