March 5, 2015 by Max Meyer
Omar Nasir (Instagram: @onasir13)
By Evan Budrovich
Omar Nasir went about his usual duties as a USC student manager, not expecting the grandiose display that typically follows players during their final home game.
His most recent chapter started like any other, arriving two and a half hours before USC’s game against Washington.
Unfazed by the moment, the senior student manager stood under the basket, laced with his typical Cardinal colored button-down shirt with freshly pressed slacks and a pair of shiny black dress shoes. As per usual, Nasir arrived earlier than his counterparts, fielding rebound after rebound with redshirt sophomore guard Katin Reinhart at an empty Galen Center.
What’s interesting is that on a roster without any USC players to honor on Senior Night, later deemed Fan Appreciation Night, Nasir absorbed his final few hours as a student manager in full stride. While nothing formal was announced, players were quick to recognize the lone senior for all of his hard work.
“Oh, for sure – Omar, he’s the best,” said sophomore captain Julian Jacobs. “He always comes to practice early and works really hard for us.”
After Omar had completed his laundry list of duties, the Trojans played their most complete game of the season in a 70-55 victory Saturday over the Washington Huskies. Once the final buzzer sounded, his fellow student managers, and of course his shooting partner Reinhardt, swarmed Nasir with sheer excitement.
“He’s always there to work me out and get in the gym with me at anytime cause he wants me to get better,” explained Reinhardt. “He really pushes me hard.”
The dedication Nasir brings to the position of student manager comes from hours of experience hustling at his high school gymnasium. A graduate of Damien and a two-year reserve guard in community college, Nasir transferred to the University of Southern California with a tireless passion for the game he loves.
In order to build up his resume, Nasir spends his free time as an assistant coach back at Damien, along with extra hours in the USC coaching office scouting tape on the next opponent. But many of the skills Nasir instills with his high school players derive from the lessons learned overcoming adversity with the USC Trojans, a young squad battling through yet another losing season.
USC is 11-18 on the season, and right now in last place in the Pac-12 with only three conference wins. Yet Nasir takes great pride in his work, using the losing as motivation for the tireless effort put forth at the Galen Center. Especially when seemingly no one is watching, and when only family or close friends actually know your name.
“This is certainly not easy,” warned Nasir, who just completed his first full season with the team. “It can also be a grind, especially on the days when you have to stick around and clean all the players’ sweaty gear. But it makes us stronger.”
For all the hours players spend in the weight room, watching tape and taking jump shots on the floor, Nasir is right with them through every step in the process. The rigorous schedule was challenging at first, but Nasir feels that this dedication to basketball has only sharpened his tactical approach to succeeding in the classroom.
Although Nasir was quick to point out that his greatest moment as a basketball student manager wasn’t actually at the Galen Center. That moment occurred when head coach Andy Enfield selected him to travel with the team as the Trojans faced Arizona and Arizona State just one week before Senior Night. Being a part of that road trip was what Nasir called a “once-in-a-lifetime experience,” which he hopefully feels will only open more doors into the coaching world.
“I’ve been fielding a few offers from local community colleges but I’m not sure what’s next,” said Nasir, who will be graduating from USC with a degree in business administration. “I’m sure glad to have worked with this team, though.”
While the Galen Center crowd was jumping for joy with high-flying dunks, hinting at the brand of basketball fans have been waiting for under coach Enfield, Nasir looked past the glitz and glamour. He noticed a team that was learning to win, learning to overcome mental mistakes and growing together as a unit.
As USC seeks to develop in the years to come, the noticeable impact of their oldest student manager, who everyone called “Coach O,” will have surely played a role in how this team approaches the game of basketball.
“It’s (going to be) different cause I’ve never had someone like that outside of my trainer in the offseason,” said Reinhardt. “That’s my guy!”