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May 21, 2010

Former Golden Eagle Amadi McKenzie named France's Forward of the Year

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Amadi McKenzie has obviously mastered playing French basketball. Now, the former Golden Eagle is hoping he can do the same with the French language.

A former all-OVC post player for Tennessee Tech, McKenzie has wrapped up a stellar season in the French Pro B basketball league by being named the league's Forward of the Year. The teams were announced by Eurobasket.com.

A 2008 TTU graduate, McKenzie played this past season with the St. Vallier team. He helped his team to a 17-17 record, the best in franchise history, finishing just one game shy of reaching the playoffs.

"It's pretty crazy, living in France, but the good thing is that I've been able to build relationships with the players and it makes it an easier transition for me," McKenzie said. "The biggest difference in the game of basketball over here is that some of the rules are a little different.

"Last year, I got called for traveling all the time," he said. "I was using a move that I brought with me from college, and they called me every time for traveling. It was difficult breaking myself from doing that move. I spent the summer working on getting that move out of my mind."

He was successful in that effort, allowing him to move to his next project.

"My next project is learning French," McKenzie said. "It's not coming as well as I wish it would, but I haven't really had the chance to devote as much time as I need to."

McKenzie averaged 16.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 63.2 percent from the field. He reached double figures in 31 of his team's 34 games, including 10 games above the 20-point mark.

In addition to being named the Forward of the Year, McKenzie was named first-team All-League and was one of five players selected for the All-Imports Team.

McKenzie will be getting married in July in Atlanta to his fiance, Deborah Bashir, also from Atlanta, and the couple plans to return to France next year, although he doesn't know yet what team he'll play for or in which league.

"The best part about being in France is the atmosphere," McKenzie said. "It's a beautiful place. Once you get a chance to be around different cultures and see how other people live it's exremely humbling. It makes me appreciate that I'm able to live a life that many people only dream about."

McKenzie came to Tech in 2004 from Booker T. Washington in Atlanta, Ga. He capped off his Golden Eagle career by wining the John P. Hendrix Leadership Award and the Golden Eagle Award. He played in 122 games in four season and scored 1,331 points to rank 11th in school history. He also ranks eighth in career rebounds with 771, and set the career record for the highest career field goal percentage, shooting 60.2 percent.

He's learned to adjust his style of play, and he's working at learning the language. The one thing he hasn't been able to accomplish is staying away from French pastries.

"Yeah, I've eaten a whole lot of croissants and I've put on a few pounds," he admits.