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Arsalan Kazemi (Iran)
IRI - Kazemi a man with the plan

EUGENE (FIBA Asia Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Arsalan Kazemi's recent transfer from Rice to the Oregon Ducks could hardly have gone any better.

Players are often required to sit out an entire academic year before they play for another school, but the 22-year-old Iranian received clearance from the NCAA to play this season.

He´s wearing the Oregon green, yellow and black and putting smiles on the faces of the Ducks faithful at the Matthew Knight Arena.

A 2.01m small forward who played for Iran's national side at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and at the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship, Kazemi is proving to be an all-rounder.

In Saturday's 80-59 triumph over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, a win that improved the Ducks to 7-1 - their best start since 2007 when they won eight of their first nine games - Kazemi had game-highs in rebounds (13) and steals (five).

The players that score the points usually get their names in headlines, so when it was put to Kazemi that he's willing to do the dirty work to help the Ducks, he answered to "It's just my personality.

"I just like to do whatever my team needs me to do.

"We were struggling a little bit on the boards, so I tried to do a little bit more and get my team going.

"Defensively, I can get some steals. I can pass the ball pretty good, too, so those are things I can do."

With Iran, Kazemi has been able to put the ball in the basket.

He also scored 11 points against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which gave him the 46th double-double of his career and first at Oregon.

"Any time they need me to score, I can look for my shot and get my offense going as well," he said.

Kazemi's game-high in rebounds this season was 15 against a good Cincinnati team.

Kazemi raised plenty of eyebrows with Iran at the World Championship a couple of years ago.

He had 14 points and five steals in a game against the United States.

Putting on the Iran shirt, Kazemi says, has "definitely" made him a better player.

"The best experience I've had in my life as a basketball player came when I played at the World Championship against NBA players," he said.

"It was probably the best competition that I've ever been in and it helped me a lot.

"I learned a lot and it was just a great experience.

"It showed me first of all that yes, I can play against them," he said.

"That brought up my confidence so much. I was probably one of the youngest players in the World Championship at the time so I decided that if I work hard, I can accomplish a lot of my goals.

"My main goal now is to get to the NBA. I'm working for that right now."

Next summer

Because he is chasing his dream, to make it an NBA team as his fellow Iranian Hamad Haddadi has with the Memphis Grizzlies, Kazemi says he cannot join Iran for the entire summer of 2013.

He has not ruled out featuring with the national team again, though.

"I really would love to join the national team but I already talked to them about it," he said.

"It´s too early.

"I´m trying to focus on my basketball right now in college, concentrate on what I´m doing and our goals for the Oregon basketball team and next year. If I play well enough, there is the NBA Draft. But there are a lot of ifs.

"There will be the NBA Summer League and all that, and I told them (Iran Basketball Federation) that I may not be able to come and practice with the team but if they want me to go straight to the Asian Games (Asian Championship), I´ll be more than happy.

"This is something that I want, to reach my goal (of the NBA). I do really want to play for my national team, but there are going to be a lot of ifs."

Kazemi says it helps him a lot that the federation and his national squad teammates have been very supportive.

"Definitely," he said. "They have been supporting me the whole time, every since I came here.

"The national team has been supporting me since my first day arriving in America."


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