As power trios go, it’s harder to get much better than this:
Khalid El-Amin, Jabbar Washington and Ozzie Lockhart. Point guard, forward, shooting guard. The backbone of one of the most impressive runs in Minnesota high school boys’ basketball history. Starting in the fall of 1994, they were the core of Minneapolis North teams that went 81-4 while winning three straight state championships.
On March 23, 1997 that era ended with North’s 61-53 victory over Stillwater in the state final at St. Paul Civic Center. The Polars went 30-0 in 1994-95, 26-1the next season, 25-3 in 1996-97.
“We wanted to be remembered in Minnesota history,” El-Amin said after his final game with the Polars. “This says something and hopefully will satisfy our critics. We’ll take three losses for a state championship.”
Said North coach Robin Ingram: “I’ll leave it up to basketball historians to say if we were the best team in state history. I will say we were one of the best.’’
At the bedrock of the first three-peat since Edina’s in the late 1960s was El-Amin.
He scored 84 points in three state tournament games as a senior. He had 35 points in a 73-59 victory over Rochester Mayo in the Class 4A quarterfinals, 23 in a 59-48 semifinal victory over Hopkins and 26 in the title game. He shot 54% for the tournament.
What a career. The 5-11 El-Amin had starred for North as early as eighth grade and was a mainstay for Ingram for five seasons, always at his best in big games. In the 1996 quarterfinals he had 41 points, hitting nine three-pointers and a buzzer-beating 23-footer against St. Thomas Academy to send North on its way to a second title.
The third title came at the end of a season in which El-Amin was under tremendous scrutiny, one that would end with him being named a McDonald’s All-America and the state’s Mr. Basketball.
On April 25, 1997 — his 18th birthday — El-Amin announced he would attend the University of Connecticut. As a freshman he was named the Big East rookie of the year in 1998. A year later he was the starting point guard on a UConn team that beat Duke in the NCAA title game.
El-Amin scored the Huskies’ final four points in a 77-74 victory over a Blue Devils team that included Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon, William Avery and Corey Maggette.
Drafted in the second round (34th overall) by Chicago in the 2000 NBA draft, El-Amin played one season for the Bulls before embarking on a multiyear pro career that took him around the world, ending in 2017.