Interviews

Published on May 14th, 2020 | by Percy Crawford

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Nima Omidvar’s Profound Impact on College Basketball!

George Washington University assistant, Nima Omidvar understands the monumental importance of GWU.

Basketball is in his veins. It’s one of those unexplainable passions that consumes your life. George Washington University assistant basketball coach, Nima Omidvar’s love for hoops comes out in conversation. You could literally hear his passion through the phone. Numbers don’t lie and his results from the programs he has been a part of are documented. His ability to be relatable to his student-athletes is just one of his many admired qualities. His work ethic and drive is contagious. But as lucky as GWU is to have him, Coach Nima is equally grateful for the opportunity to coach at such a prestigious institution. A university where academics supersedes sports, the GWU basketball staff has been able to create a balance where the two coexist. Finding success at one university is difficult enough, hell, having success at one level is difficult. Coach Nima has excelled at both the high school and college ranks.

Check out what Coach Nima had to say about George Washington University, the importance of being ahead of the curb while recruiting during quarantine and much more!

You are the assistant basketball coach of, George Washington University. Obviously, we are in different times right now. how much are you able to do through apps like, Zoom?

Nima Omidvar: Through Zoom, we’ve had a handful of invite calls and virtual visits, although it’s not necessarily a virtual visit. It’s more of a re-connection. We’re kind of ahead of the game with 2021 recruiting. We invested a lot of time and hit the ground running. We got 2020 done pretty quickly. We signed 3 transfers immediately after the season ended and right as the Corona Virus hit off. We were armed with videos, content and information. Luckily our campus is in the middle of the city. We’re several blocks from the White House, so we’re probably on the safest couple of blocks in the country. So, it was nothing for us to just ride up to campus while everybody else had already left and do a Facetime tour. It helped really bring the experience to the 3 young men that we signed, Matthew Moyer from Vanderbilt, Ricky Lindo from Maryland and James Bishop from LSU. Now that that’s been handled, 2021, we have 2 spots left available. We did all of our work in terms of offering the guys that we really wanted last fall. So, we got a year of relationships in with a handful of kids and we don’t need to show our campus, they’ve seen it. We don’t need to talk about the academic side, they know it. and now it’s just revisiting and talking about ways that they can get themselves better, and re-acclimating them to our new roster. We have only one player on this roster for the day, Coach Christian was given the job.

Wow!

Nima Omidvar: Yes! So, there has been some significant roster turnover in a good way. It wasn’t a lot of transfers, just guys going and doing their own thing and us building towards the future. I think we’re in a really strong spot. Hell, we’re ahead of the game for 2022. We only have one spot in that class. We’re already believe it or not, starting to just learn about names for 2023. And when you’re in Washington D.C. and the DMV area, the most fertile recruiting area in the country, we got enough talent around us to build a championship level squad, so we don’t need to get on planes and all that to figure this out. We could do it right in our backyard.

In terms of conditioning and just making sure guys are doing the right things, how have you approached that?

Nima Omidvar: The way we play, we are a very skilled basketball team and skilled program. We’re also a high academia institution. There are a lot of things you gotta factor in for us specifically. So, our guys right now, it’s kind of a blessing for them that we are out of the gym because they can really pour themselves into their academics and really advance themselves that way. We really want our guys to excel in the classroom and they are able to do that. We challenge everybody, regardless of position to do 20-minutes of ball handling twice a day. They are self-starters. Every single one of them. We don’t need to tell them to film it and send it to us. Look, you’re either about it or you’re not. If you’re not, the game is going to pass you anyways. So, you better be about it. We have certain guys who have taken this time out to transform their bodies. Jamison Battle, who is a First Team All-A10 rookie performer as a freshman. Led the A10 in 3-pointers made. He’s lost 20-pounds. That was his biggest obstacle was to get in tip top shape. Dude has done that. So, now you’re talking about a lean machine that can really swish that thing. He’s going to have a chance to really catapult himself and his game and his squad.

That’s the physical side of things, how are you keeping their mental intact?

Nima Omidvar: We are definitely working on the mental aspect of this game. Each of us position coaches… like I work with the wings and the shooters. We’re called, “Team Swish.” Our point guards, our forwards, we’re studying different elite players from our generation. Our staff is young. We’re all in our 30’s. We are all in our early 30’s, but our players are 18-22. They don’t know, Richard Hamilton like I do, they don’t know, Ray Allen, they don’t know, Robert Horry. Guys that really did their thing from behind the 3-point line. That’s something that we’re really focusing on is ways to expand their game mentally. I think every team in the country is probably watching, “The Last Dance,” and studying that. I think that’s really good for these guys to learn that no matter how successful the team is, every team has adversity. It’s all about how you handle and respond to that adversity. Those are the things that we’ve been doing. There’s no right or wrong answer, as long as you’re not sitting idle. The guys that we have identified and recruited, they’re all self-starters. We don’t need guys that we have to beg to do what they should be doing.

We have a saying in our program, “Love is accountability and accountability is love.” So, if I truly love my guys like I do, and I hold them accountable to their dreams, we’re going to accomplish them. Most of them have dreams of playing professional basketball. We just gotta hold you accountable to that dream and what it takes to get there. So, if that’s your dream, then you gotta do what you gotta do to get there. I gotta give you some resources and guidance along the way, no question about it, but there’s a lot that you gotta do too and those guys are doing it. that’s why they are on this team and on this roster.

When I watch people describe you, Coach Christian and Bobby Cervino, the verbiage doesn’t change, great guy, hard worker and people person and your passion for the sport of basketball. Where did those values come from and how important is it for you to instill those values into your guys?

Nima Omidvar: I’m very fortunate to be where I am because I was not an accomplished or decorated player. This was a passion. My first 7-years in coach, I’ve been coaching for 16 now. During my first seven, didn’t get paid a dime, nothing. I did it because I loved it. If I didn’t get paid anything else, fine. I’m doing it because I love it. I’ve been able to make a career out of it which has been a blessing. I love it. I love every day that I get to call myself a basketball coach and an educator. But I tell you, I’m not going to try and instill my enthusiasm every single day… I’m now in a position where I can recruit student-athletes. If you don’t have that enthusiasm, I’m not recruiting you. If you’re not excited about basketball, then what are we talking about here. You could go play on somebody else’s team, but you can’t make it here. Yes, we as coaches in this era have to coach energy and effort at times. That’s just the reality. I’ll be damned if I got a choice to pick the guy that’s not energetic and is lethargic about his activities versus someone who is fired up.

When I call kids, if you don’t answer, okay, that’s fine, you were busy. If you don’t call back, then you’re just not about it. No problem. This is an amazing university. It’s the world’s most powerful university. The world’s most powerful city. It’s the most expensive degree in the nation. We have some of the best internships, steps away from where we’re located. We have a storied history from a basketball perspective. Everyone on our staff has won and everyone on our staff has been a part of producing first-round draft picks. If you don’t want to be a part of that, hey man, I’m going to cheer you on. No hard feelings, but I can’t be in those trenches with you every single day because this is not a chore, this is a privilege. I treat it as such every single day. I’m excited to be in that gym and I want guys that are excited to be in there too.

Your coaching journey has taken you all over. Was the goal always to be back in the DMV area?

Nima Omidvar: Yes and no. My journey has seesawed back and forth to the DMV, right. I was a high school coach in the area, then I was a grad assistant at UNC-Charlotte, then I came back to the DMV at Bowie State, then I went to NC State, then I came back to Maryland, then I went to South Alabama, and now I’m at GW. I’m playing DMV school bingo and I’m running out of spots. I don’t think that’s been the case, I think everywhere I’ve gone, I have used a simple criteria in my mind, is this a place I wanna be. I was an economics major in college. So, I look at every opportunity like a stock. If the stock is undervalued and it should be valued at a much higher valuation, it’s my job to put it back to where it belongs.

Some institutions have what it takes to be great and then there are those who maybe just haven’t had that success before. I’m not saying that they can’t. I love to study the history of the game, and when you look at Universities that have had success like a George Washington, like South Alabama, like Maryland, like NC State, like Bowie State and UNC-Charlotte, every single one of them programs have been at the very top of their conference for a sustained amount of time. Every single one of them have been to the NCAA Tournament. Every single one of them have advanced in the NCAA Tournament. These are some of the metrics that I look at. They all have fans. They all have fanbases that care and administrations that care. Those are the characteristics that tell me if the program has a chance to be successful as long as I do my part. My part is simple, identify young men and families that want to better their lives and for me to give them a platform to do that with free education and guidance. I have been really fortunate to coach 14-NBA players, but I’ve also had about 90 not make it. But of those 90, I got real estate agents, doctors, lawyers, business owners, unbelievable fathers and those guys are success stories as well. I’m really proud to say that I’ve been around a lot of successful individuals. Because my roots are here in the DMV, I believe I bring value to DMV programs which is why I’ve kind of seesawed back and forth. I want to give the guys that I’m with every single day my absolute best. Every single year college basketball is a reset, players evaluate the situation and coaches evaluate the situation and I just feel really fortunate to be at George Washington. It’s really a special place. I don’t think there is a campus or university like it.

What makes that campus so special in your opinion?

Nima Omidvar: It’s not for everybody, but it’s very unique just because of our location, the quality of education and the people that have walked on those streets. Between 19th and 24th street in northwest D.C. has been some really profound individuals. And those that understand that I like being around them. I want to be around those type of guys and their families because those are the ones who are going to have the highest propensity to be successful in life.

How special is it to recruit student athletes to play in the Nation’s Capital?

Nima Omidvar: Only a handful of people can say that, and they are all in the Nation’s Capital. We have learned more and more about the power of this institution since being here. I’m not bashful in bragging about this university, it’s powerful. 37 current senators or US representatives graduated from George Washington University. 4 current heads of state, Croatia, Togo, Bermuda and Venezuela graduated from George Washington University. The first ever president of South Korea graduated from George Washington University. We talked about, “The Last Dance,” Jerry Reinsdorf graduated from George Washington University. Ted Lerner, the owner of the Nationals… George Washington University. The list goes on and on depending on what field you want to be in. Politics, we are exceptional in that realm. The world’s decisions are made here in the Nation’s Capital. And decisions that effect everyone. Our universities mantra is, ‘We change the world one person at a time.’ Everyday there are impactful change agents around our campus.

You’re walking to class and you could hear a protest going on off in the distance. It can be for or against something. And you have the opportunity to formulate your own opinion and if you feel strong enough about it, you can help impact some change if that’s what you want to do. We had one game this year… this was an unbelievable experience for our students and our student athletes. We had Swae Lee the rapper at the game. He was having a blast and the students were going crazy, and a protest breaks out in the middle of the game. That’s as unique of an experience that you’re ever going to get. There are people asking us afterwards if that was a distraction. Not at George Washington. We love that. We embrace that. We want our students to feel empowered enough to say what they want. That’s what America is all about. Kid’s that come to this institution should feel empowered to voice their opinion. That’s how we change the world and that’s why we’re the world’s most powerful university. That’s just a fact.

How optimistic are you that play will resume, and we will move forward with sports?

Nima Omidvar: It’s hard to say. I would leave that up to the experts. We keep our ear to the ground every day. It’s been discussed in the NCAA to possibly bring summer basketball back in late August or the fall. I don’t know how you can accurately project that. I think every institution is formulating a plan of how they can keep their constituents safe. Our university has a three-tier metric on all decisions that are made, and safety is number one. It is something that our university president introduced last fall. We are on the forefront of safety and making sure that everybody is taken care of. Our university has had some really candid discussions about resuming education around one another. If we can’t resume on the hardwood, we’re still going to continue to work.

I appreciate your time, good luck to you and the squad right now and when sports resume. Is there anything else you want to add?

Nima Omidvar: I appreciate it. I enjoy sharing our university’s story and what we’re about. I think the most important thing as members of our athletic department and our university is that we let the world know why this place is so special. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do that. Whoever consumes this interview, I encourage them to look at our hashtags that we use, #WMPU for World’s Most Powerful University. #WMPC for World’s Most Powerful City. And #OnlyAtGW. That’s a long-standing hashtag of some of the things that can only happen here on our campus from sighting of President’s, guest speakers to Swae Lee and the protest at the same game.

 

 


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