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Bear Insider Video: Cal Senior Center Fardaws Aimaq

August 14, 2023

In early April, the Bears and new head coach Mark Madsen picked up a big piece of their 2023-24 puzzle in Texas Tech center Fardaws Aimaq‍.

Through three seasons and 83 games played heading into the season, the 6’11 Aimaq added 1,056 points (12.7 per game), 918 rebounds (11.1 per game) and 99 blocks (1.2) in his career. He returned from a foot injury in January this season but was still productive, even while playing through his injury, including hauling in 18 rebounds vs. Kansas.

In his podcast with Bear Insider in June, Madsen extolled the virtues of his new center.

“Let's talk about Fardaws Aimaq,” Madseon said. “I had him at Utah Valley for three years. Fardaws is a true professional. A lot of times, big guys are not as concerned about their body because they're down there banging. Fardaws is meticulous about every part of his game. We had a good win against BYU at home two and a half years ago. It was an overtime game and Fardaws played 44 minutes out of 45 minutes. What big guy can do that? And he wasn't just out there playing. He was playing at a high level.

“Fardaws redshirted with us for a year then he played and after that second year, he said to me, 'Coach, will you let me shoot threes next year?' And I said, 'Daws, you've made them in practice. If you put the work in, if you shoot a great percentage, absolutely. You can shoot threes next year.' Well, he led our team in three-point shooting percentage. On about 40-45 attempts. I think he shot about 43%. So it wasn't as high last year as he was playing hurt at Texas Tech. But Fardaws can shoot the three and what he can do in his sleep, Fardaws can roll out of bed in the morning and he can just suck in defensive rebounds, like bees would go for honey. That's Fardaws. And he got a strong post game. He's a good passer, he does a lot of things.”

"At the end of the day, the way that I play, it was just playing as hard as I can and I feel like whether being hurt or not hurt, I feel like that's just gonna get me some stuff," Aimaq said. "Now being with Mark, who knows how to utilize me, knows how to use me, I think a lot of coaches there are obviously gonna benefit me. And I'm super excited to be under him again, playing with this staff.

"Obviously last year playing in the Big 12, playing at Texas Tech, it was a good experience, it was a good journey with all the ups and downs. I suffered an injury that took me out about 80% of the season so I don't think I was able to show my full potential, but I think now being back with Mark playing back in the Pac-12 on the West Coast. I think it's just the perfect setup for success."

Aimaq started his career playing for Madsen at Utah Valley, earning WAC Player of the Year in 2021-22 and twice earning Defensive Player of the Year and 1st Team All-Conference. Now he’ll be reunited with the coach who oversaw his best collegiate success.

"Playing for Mark, it's a dream come true for a guy like me, with aspirations that I have, and someone who's done everything that I want to do eventually. It was a perfect setup and I knew he was my guy, coming in at a young age. And he kind of mentored me throughout my college journey, which obviously has now led back full circle playing for him again, finally."

Newest Bears Fardaz Aimaq, Jaylon Tyson and Jalen Cone

Even though the bay area is far from Aimaq’s home in Vancouver, BC or his previous stops in Utah and Texas, the new Bears center is nevertheless feeling right at home at Cal.

"Yeah for me, it feels like I'm home," Aimaq said. "It's been nothing but love out here, I can feel the excitement on campus. There's a lot of people who are obviously excited to watch us this year. Not just people who go to school, but people around the bay who are excited to see what Mark and our new team are going to do. At the end of the day, it's just going to be us seeing how fast we can gel together and come together and do this thing when things start up."

The bay area Afghani population, not to mention a number of relatives in the greater bay area also makes things feel like a home away from home.

"I know the population is much higher out here than Texas for Utah," Aimaq said. "But I've got to stay away from that (to much Afghani food), with me trying to get back to being in shape."

if his training tweets are any indication, conditioning doesn’t appear to be a worry for the new Bears.

"I'm fully recovered, fully healthy," Aimaq said. "So knock on some wood, I've got to stay healthy and we've got to keep gelling as a team."

Even though Aimaq is new to the program, he’s well-versed on some of the program’s success in recent decades before their dismal recent run in the past half-decade.

"With having a lot of family out here, when I first committed, the excitement was in the air just because like I had said, it's a basketball school,” Aimaq said. “It's had basketball culture. And I know they're trying to push the success of the football team and everything, but I think at the end of the day, when the basketball teams do good, I think this helps everyone. They've had a lot of success here. I think to get back to that, it's going to require not just work on our end, but I think packing out stadiums again, getting people in again, but I think that just comes with winning games, and doing what you're supposed to do. And I think that's gonna help us out."

The fact that Aimaq has come in with a strong group of grad transfers that instantly upped the odds of a strong season for the program was particularly important to the new Cal center.

"For me personally, it's been great just because honestly, I'm in college but I see this as like a professional year just because I'm a little older and I came with some older guys, so having that experience obviously it's gonna help and then just having guys around me that are also experienced and have that experience, whether they're coming from a mid-major, high major, just understanding what it takes to truly play a full college basketball season and have success at it. Obviously, Mad Dog is gonna lead the way but having our core guys that have that I think it's going to be huge."

Aimaq was asked what kind of offense can Cal fans expect to see out of Madsen on the team this season and what fans could expect to see from him.

"Coach, he's an NBA guy," Aimaq noted. "So we're gonna play a lot of NBA-style offense. It's going to be a lot of I want to say exciting basketball. One through five will be able to shoot. We're gonna play really fast. We've got guys who can really shoot, guys that can really handle the ball so I think at the end of the day, it's just going to be honestly how well we can play together you know, how quick we can play together as well. So the type of player I think you'll see in myself is just someone who's gonna work hard, just play as hard as I can like every possession, whether it's on a defensive offensive end. One night it might be on the scoring end and one it might be on the rebounds and blocks so it's just gonna depend on what the team needs that night and I'm feeling it."

In an earlier interview with Bear Insider, Madsen noted that there are potential lineup combinations that could put five 40%+ perimeter scorers, a possibility that excites the Bears’ new post.

"100%," Aimaq said. Honestly, I haven't played with four guys that can really shoot it from out there and I think this is gonna be the first time where it's gonna force a lot of teams to pick their poison in a way, whether you're gonna send another extra guy at me and then we hit shooters or you're gonna force the opposing big to play one on one, which I think is going to be in our benefit. So at the end of the day, it's going to be super exciting. Whole different style to what they played last year. We're gonna play with a lot of pace up and down. I think fans will be super excited."


Aimaq Ready to Turn Cal Program Around

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Bear Insider Video: Cal Senior Center Fardaws Aimaq

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