For the Love of the Game
By Monique Muñiz (CSUN Media Relations Intern)
When you see freshman Allan Guei play on the court, people think he plays basketball with passion and hustle. Well you are correct; however, basketball was not his first love.
The Cal State Northridge men's basketball point guard may have possibly became a soccer star. Born in Milan Italy, Guei moved to the Ivory Coast in Africa at the age of four, Guei's first love was futbol.
"I loved soccer and it was the first sport I played," remembered Guei, "I use to love watching France and Brazil play. Ronaldo Nazario de Lima was my favorite player. "When I moved to the United States, I wanted to play soccer. But when I came here, everyone was playing basketball."
When he moved from Italy to Africa the adjustment was easy because he was young. But not knowing anyone or speaking English when he moved to the United States made for a hard adjustment.
"It was just different. In Africa, not too many people get to see it the way I saw it. When people see Africa they sometimes see it as a poor place, but that wasn't the case for me," Guei said. "Over here not knowing the language and having no friends was a big adjustment for me."
Guei knew only French at the time and he had to learn English. In school, it was tough because he would think kids were making fun of him since he didn't understand them. It was on the basketball court though that helped him adjust better to the American culture.
He would watch Lakers games with this father and in the sixth grade Guei started to play pickup games at school.
"I would try and play at school," recalls Guei. "The guys didn't pick me at first because I didn't know how to play. I would just run up and down the court and I fell in love with the game and never looked back."
At Cal State Northridge, being the smallest player on the court didn't stop his determination at being the best player on the hardwood.
"I know it is going to take a lot of work to get better each and every year, but that is my goal," Guei said. "Even if I never get to the NBA, I've still reached my potential."
Playing on the youngest collegiate team (CSUN) in the country, Guei has become one of the most vocal players on the floor. At 5'8, the point guard knows he needs to gain respect from Northridge opponents.
"A lot of them don't respect me and I have to let them know I am on the court too," said Guei. "So I have always been vocal and I think my leadership is one of the big keys that colleges looked at me."
Not only is Guei a hard worker on the court, but he also has a good heart. Many have heard his story on how he won a free throw contest in high school and split the money among the other contestants. He owes that to the way he was brought up by his family.
"My parents and my aunt always told me if I have something don't be selfish, and help others. Whether I am successful in basketball or business I want to help others out whatever way I can. I was blessed to have the opportunity to do it early, but I'm still going to be doing that in the future."
Even though Guei may sometimes think he could have been a great soccer player he doesn't regret falling in love with the game of basketball and the life it has brought him thus far.