COLUMBUS — He does everything for his team. Everything. He helps the players stretch before practice. He passes out basketballs and water bottles. He hops into drills and runs full speed up and down the court. And on game night, he’s the most vocal, most energetic supporter on the bench.
He’s a legend. He’s Adnan.
Specifically, he’s Adnan Weheliye, a senior basketball manager at Pickerington Central who has become one of the central figures on one of Ohio’s best basketball teams. He was born in Somalia and immigrated to the United States in 2006 with his family. He’s the oldest of six kids, so he’s accustomed to being around a large group. He had not watched an organized basketball game before arriving in America. He quickly fell in love with the game and started to learn how to play. When he got to Pickerington he quickly figured out he was not big enough or quite talented enough to make the team, but he wanted to be close to it. So the coaches invited him to serve as a team manager, quickly working his way up from the freshmen to the varsity team.
The Tigers happen to be one of the most talented teams in Ohio, featuring future North Carolina center Sterling Manley and guard Jeremiah Francis, who has offers from numerous major schools including Ohio State. Pickerington Central will play for the D-I Regional Championship Saturday night at Ohio Dominican, and you can rest assured Adnan’s vocal chords will be ready to go.
Adnan’s coaches say he’s an excellent student and he plans to attend college next year at either Ohio State, Ohio University or Akron. The coaches have also contacted each school about the possibility of Adnan coming on board to serve as a basketball manager at the college level.
It’s a fairly incredible year at Pickerington, where even the team manager is going Division I.