Player Spotlight – Saleem Lyus

Our weekly Wednesday feature returns once again and it’s time to catch up with another EABL player to find out what makes them tick, how they got into basketball, their goals for this season and beyond, and much more.

This week, Saleem Lyus from The Canterbury Academy joins us.

Name: Saleem Lyus

Position: Guard

Team: The Canterbury Academy

Tell us a little about yourself:

I have been playing basketball for eight years and currently I’m in year 14 at the Canterbury Academy.

I started off playing football locally for seven years and found my love for basketball later on in life. I am half British and Persian and originally from Essex.

How and where did you first get into basketball?

In year 7 I was 5’8″ and was pulled aside in my first week at secondary school by the head of PE at Shoeburyness High School and near enough forced to try out for the team for obvious reasons!

I fell in love with the game that day and my love continued to grow from there. Sadly, my body didn’t match that growth and as the years went on I’ve had to adapt my skill set. It has led to me simply enjoying learning more about basketball though.

Can you a remember a moment when you decided basketball was something you wanted to play more seriously? What happened?

An older teammate from the Sixth Form team re-posted a motivational video and on the recommended section was a video about Kobe Bryant.

He was talking about his work ethic and insane attention to detail on the simplest of things and I was mesmerised by some of the stories.

I set my alarm the next day for 4:30am and spent the morning before school working out.

Those videos shaped my mentality and ignited the desire to just be better.

What have been the biggest challenges of your basketball career so far? 

I would say COVID-19 was one of the toughest challenges. Not being able to go into a court or go to a gym was very frustrating, plus only communicating with my teammates and coaches online.

It was very hard to find motivation when everyone was stuck at home but I always tried to remember and have faith that it would all just be temporary.

Initially, moving out at 16 and coming to Canterbury was extremely challenging. It was only me, my mum and sister living together in Essex for such a long time and it was hard to leave them.

I also had no idea how to live without my family around but I had great and supportive people all around me that helped me and guided me.

Who is the toughest player you’ve faced? What made them so difficult to play against?

My ex-teammate Will Raife was arguably one of the hardest players I’ve had to play against.

He was a knockdown shooter and no matter how hard you would try to guard him off-ball he would still find a way to get open and get his shot off.

The amount he cared and competed every possession always forced me to work my hardest.

What are your current goals for the season?

This year I want to be in the top five for 3-point shooting percentage in the EABL and to help my team make the playoffs.

Do you have any plans or goals for next season?

Next year I aspire to be playing BUCS 1 and NBL 1 which is possible if I can shoot the ball really well this year.

What are you currently working on to take your game to the next level?

As much as I am still working on game-realistic shooting every day (off the move and off screens etc.), I am really focused on being a solid defender and helping my team on the defensive end with heart, hustle and leadership.

What advice would you give someone who is just getting started in basketball?

Watch as much basketball as you can, local teams, British basketball, EuroLeague etc. You can learn so much from just watching how players move and react.

Physically, focus on your fundamentals and make sure you’re great at them, that will give you a great foundation to build your game.

Finally, take every opportunity there is to train and get better but be patient. It’s a long process but it’ll will be worth it.

Who is your favourite basketball player and why?

Kobe Bryant has always stood out to me. Although he is a prolific scorer and a tenacious defender, that isn’t the reason.

He has always stood out to me because of his mentality and how unfazed he is by the big moments. He really believed that every shot he took would go in and he would play like it.

If I could chose anyone in history to take the last shot of a game, I would choose Kobe Bryant.

Main image credit – The Canterbury Academy

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