Sami Osmani entered Oak Lawn Community High School four years ago with the intention of leading the Spartans to a conference championship, the first in over 36 years. Although that championship has yet to come, the senior point guard has managed to immortalize himself as one of the best basketball players in the school’s history, while picking up many impressive accolades.
Just six games into the 2019/20 season, Osmani surpassed former NBA player and OLCHS basketball legend, CJ Kupec, as the school’s all-time leading points scorer. In a 62-26 victory over South Suburban Conference opponents, Bremen High School, Osmani eclipsed Kupec’s 48-year-old shooting record of 1,377 with his fifth point of the game.
“It means a lot to me,” Osmani said. “There’s a lot of basketball left to play, and I’m just trying to focus on the team.
“Obviously, it’s a big accomplishment, but hopefully my team and I can keep playing high level ball and do something special for Oak Lawn. It just shows that hard work can get you to where you want to be.”
In a pregame ceremony before a home match against Tinley Park, Kupec presented Sami with a commemorative ball to honor his achievement.
“Kupec is an Oak Lawn legend, and it was big for me to have him there to commemorate the accomplishment,” Osmani said. “It shows the basketball culture we have here at Oak Lawn and it was great to see him there and be happy for me.”
With the former NBA player symbolically passing down the torch, the inspirited Spartans went on to crush the Titans in a 79-47 landslide-victory, with Osmani himself dropping 22 points to bring his scoring total over 1,500.
Oak Lawn coach, Jason Rhodes, has coached many successful basketball teams in the past (the 2017 team went 19-7), but he knows that this team is special.
“We have seven seniors, six of whom have played significant time as juniors,” Rhodes said. “They acquired great experience last year and have been playing together for a long time. Some of them have been in our program since the sixth grade. They work hard and share the ball well. They’re an unselfish group.”
The last time OLCHS won a conference championship in basketball was in 1984. Motivated by their lack of hardware, the Spartans strive for consistent improvement and place an emphasis on enthusiastic practices.
”Practices are very competitive and very energetic,” Rhodes said. “We put a big emphasis on positive communication. Sometimes things get a little rough, but I’d rather have that than the guys backing off.
“Our goal throughout the whole year has been to get better every day. We don’t have any specific end-of-the-year goals, other than to work hard and see where that gets us.”
Beyond their endeavors on the court, the team’s success has extended into the school community. For many, the team epitomizes Spartan PRIDE and the team’s athletic triumphs infect the school with pride.
“They are a group that have really become a family,” OLCHS Athletic Director Jeremey Cryan said. “They look out for each other and play for each other. They are a very selfless team, and that culture and mentality is infectious, and seeing that type of play garner success is really fun to watch.”
The special bond between players and infectious winning mentality that prevails in the locker room will undoubtedly carry the Spartans far this season.