Saeed Al-Naji

Coaching Experience:  25+ years

Nationality:  Canadian  |  Palestinian

Coach Saeed possesses the most diverse and accomplished track record of youth development among Middle East coaches.  His more than 25 years of hands on development of former NBA players, Canadian national team players, professional players in international leagues, NCAA scholarship student-athletes, and Canadian CIS student-athletes across North America and the Middle East puts him in a league of his own.

 

His coaching success is well noted on the competition front as well.  In 1998 Coach Saeed was a member of the coaching staff of Cathedral High School in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  The team finished the year undefeated in Canada ultimately resulting in the team being crowned as the Canadian National High School Champions. 

 

Throughout 1999-2002 Coach Saeed launched and coached several elite player development programs and travel teams that were among the pioneering programs in Canadian youth basketball history namely adidas Toronto Elite Development (TED) and its future successor Grassroots Canada (Nike sponsored program) which until today remains one of the most dominant and storied grassroots programs in Canada.  During this period he led his teams to many unprecedented tournament championships in USA AAU circuit. 

 

In 2001 he co-coached a Grassroots Canada team to a second-place finish in Douai, France (The World Junior Tournament of Douai).  En route to the championship game, his team defeated the U18 Argentinian national team, U18 Lithuanian national team, U18 Polish national team, and was ultimately defeated by 4 points in the championship game by a loaded U18 USA representation that included future NBA players Carmelo Anthony  (2003 NCAA Champion at Syracuse University), Sheldon Williams (Duke University), and Jawad Williams (2005 NCAA Champion at University of North Carolina), as well as future starters of Syracuse University’s 2003 NCAA Championship team Craig Forth and Billy Edelin among other NCAA Division 1 basketball bound athletes.  The Grassroots Canada team featured future NBA player Denham Brown (2004 NCAA Champion at University of Connecticut), Jermaine Anderson who would eventually lead Canada’s Men’s National Team for almost a decade at the point guard position (Fordham University), Jamie McNeilly (University of New Orleans and currently assistant coach at Texas A&M University),  Chris Krause (Stonehill College and currently head coach at Stonehill College), Marlon Pompey (Texas A&M University), Kern Carter (St. Bonaventure University), Janko Mrksic (Old Dominion University), Mike Hanely (Canisus University), Mike Tuck (Loyola University Maryland), Eugene Kotorobai (Long Island University), Kyle Coatsworth (University of Western Ontario).

In 2009 Coach Saeed was tasked with the challenge of rebuilding the varsity boys basketball team at American School of Dubai which during his first year heading the program returned only 2 players from the previous season.  With a roster comprised of a starting line up featuring an eighth grader, a freshman, a sophomore and two seniors, and a bench full of football players, the team shocked the entire EMAC conference (Middle East private schools  league) by winning the EMAC conference championship in his first year at the school.

Launching pioneering basketball programs and initiatives has become a signature trade mark of Coach Saeed.  In 2000 he and his partner Wayne Dawkins merged adidas Toronto Elite Development with a competing program to form Grassroots Canada, the first nationwide player development program and national travel team.  In 2001, he was co-founder of the first ever national high school all-star game in Canada, The Doritos All Canada Game (Equivalent to the McDonald’s All-American Game). 

 

Continuing his passion to launch unique and impactful basketball programs, but this time in the UAE, Coach Saeed launched Dubai Tribe Basketball Club, the UAE’s first expat basketball club, in 2007.  At the time it was exclusively focused on managing the country’s first expat semi-professional men’s club team.  Soon after, in 2011 Dubai Tribe launched the region’s first youth elite development program and international team for the U18 age group.  During the summer of 2012 Dubai Tribe’s U18 boys team became the first club team to travel to the USA to compete in AAU events.

 

MENA Basketball Showcase (2014) Founder / Event Director Dubai, UAE

  • First-ever regional high school all-star game with representation from Middle East, North Africa, and Iran.

 

MENA All-Stars (2015) Founder / Head Coach Dubai, UAE

  • First-ever regional high school all-star team to compete internationally (Italy) with representation from Middle East, North Africa, and Iran.

Dubai Amateur Basketball Association (2012 – 2015) Founder / General Manager Dubai, UAE

  • First-ever not-for-profit community basketball organisation registered with the government of Dubai.

 

Quick facts:

  • Helped develop over 55 high school student athletes who played on NBA teams (2 players), Canadian National Teams (9 players), International Professional Clubs (13 players), NCAA teams (33 players), and CIS Teams (10 players).

  • Co-coached Grassroots Canada team to 2nd place finish in 2001 Douai Junior World Championship (“2001 Tournoi Mondial de Basket”) in Douai, France.

  • Coached teams to numerous AAU basketball tournament championships in USA between 2000-2002.

  • Extensive experience in organizing basketball events and activities (through initiatives in Canada and UAE) including player exposure camps, basketball combines, recruiting camps, 3-on-3 tournaments, high school tournaments, clubs tournaments, coaching clinics, all-star games, skills clinics, men and youth leagues, camps, after school programs, etc.

  • Graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (1999) with an Honours Bachelors of Commerce degree.

  • Currently serves as partner and Managing Director of Athletes Junction, one of the largest suppliers of sports equipment and accessories to Middle East retailers.

Former Players: