Hopkins star finishes successful prep career
Siyani Chambers wears contact lenses to improve his eyesight, but his vision is just about the only thing about him that isn't exceptional.
The Hopkins senior boasts a 3.8 GPA and he's a part of the National Honor Society. In the fall, he will be attending Harvard University. He's interested in business, but at this point he isn't sure what he will study in college.
Academically, he's brilliant. He's athletic, too. Named Thursday, March 28, as the winner of the 2012 Mr. Basketball of Minnesota Award, Siyani has played point guard on the varsity basketball team at Hopkins since the eighth grade. And, with three state championships under his belt, he hadn't lost a state tournament game since his first year on the team.Until March 24 when Hopkins lost in the state semifinals to eventual Class 4A champion Osseo.
"I felt a little sad and a little hurt," Siyani said. "It was the last year for me and the other seniors to try to get a championship. I think that it was just really sad for us to not be able to go and accomplish the one goal that we were hoping to get the whole year."
It was an outcome Hopkins players had been hoping against, but they went into the tournament anticipating a tough fight this year. The Royals' leading scorer, Zach Stahl, was declared ineligible to play over an undisclosed violation before the section championship game against Edina. It was tough for the team to lose such a valuable player, but Siyani doesn't think that was a good enough reason to lose the semifinal game.
"We should have been able to get the job done without him," Siyani said. "I mean, yeah, we had some little matchup problems, but we should have been able to handle that and do the things that needed to be done."
Stahl wasn't the only Hopkins player who wasn't on the court for the state tournament.
"We had another kid, Andre McDonald, who had some personal issues. He's not playing anymore," Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr. told the Pioneer Press before the state tournament. "(Center) Nick Jorgenson tore a thumb ligament and is struggling right now. He's trying to play. We're trying to hold together."
The Royals put up a good fight, but they just weren't able to take down Osseo in the triple-overtime semifinal game.
"We got killed on the floor," Siyani said. "If we would have gotten a few more boards and held them to one shot, I think we would have been a;l right."
The Royals played for third place the day after losing to Osseo, and Hopkins defeated Lake Conference rival Eden Prairie 77-65. Siyani was a huge part of that victory, scoring 34 points in the last game of his high school career.
He knows what it takes to win a basketball game. Neither of his parents played basketball in high school or college, but that didn't stop him from familiarizing himself with the sport. He grew up playing every sport available to him, including football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. He took a special interest in basketball, and football, which he stopped playing in the eighth grade. After trying everything, basketball just stuck.
"I think after trying out all the sports, I just fell in love with basketball more," Siyani said.
His passion for the game fuels his determination and will to win, and after years of basketball, he's proved himself to be a valuable asset to every team he's competed on.
During the off season, Siyani has played on American Amateur Union (AAU) teams. In 2005 and 2004 he played for the Minnesota Magic, and for the last three summers he has played for the Howard Pulley Panthers. By playing for those teams, he has contributed to winning four AAU Basketball State Championships (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008). This was the first summer that he hasn't played on an AAU team.
"(Zach Stahl and Nick Jorgenson) both played on the same team as me," Siyani said. "It's a traveling team. We all went down to Nashville nce, and that was my first out-of-town tournament.
The three basketball stars have been playing together for years, and leaving the Hopkins basketball program to play for the Harvard Crimson will be a huge adjustment for Siyani.
"The people and the bond that I created with them might be the thing that I am going to miss the most and it's the one thing that I will try to create next year when I go off to college," Siyani said. "I think my favorite memory is the locker room talks and activities that we did as a team. It helped us bond together and made us become a family."
Here is a little more information on Siyani ...
Favorite Movie: "Troy"
Favorite TV Show: "Other than 'Sports Center,' 'The Game.'"
Favorite Music: Hip-Hop, Rap
Favorite Book: "Only the Strong Survive"
Favorite Color: Red
Favorite Animal: A Cheetah ("There's no reason. I just do.")
Favorite Breakfast food: Cinnamon Rolls
Good Luck Charm: "No, I don't have one of those."
Superhero Power He Desires: "Probably to fly. I would like to see things from above."
Favorite School Subject: Business: ("I don't know what I want to go to college for yet, though.")
The one thing about him most people don't know but would be surprised to find out: "I wear contacts."
Hidden Talent: None
Pre-game Ritual: None