A basketball family: Basheer and Yusuf Jihad reflect on playing against one another, complete with family members in the crowd

Yusef and Basheer Jihad sit together after Ball State V. Eastern Michigan Feb. 24 at Worthen Arena. The brothers are two of seven siblings in their family. Ayesha Sharpe, Photo Provided
Yusef and Basheer Jihad sit together after Ball State V. Eastern Michigan Feb. 24 at Worthen Arena. The brothers are two of seven siblings in their family. Ayesha Sharpe, Photo Provided

After Eastern Michigan’s 58-56 win against Ball State Saturday, Feb. 24, the court at Worthen Arena looked like a Jihad/Sharpe family reunion. Numerous small children threw up basketballs toward the hoop as Basheer Jihad watched on, standing at 6-feet, 9-inches tall in his all-red Ball State men’s basketball uniform.

Just a few moments before, Jihad sat near the concourse of the arena, watching his five younger siblings alongside his only older sibling, Yusuf Jihad. The brothers sat near each other, just a row of seats apart, and laughed as they dapped each other up. 

Just a few moments before, the two had been dripping with sweat, competing against one another in a Mid-American Conference (MAC) matchup in Muncie. After the Feb. 24 game between Ball State and Eastern Michigan, it was their fourth time playing against each other at the collegiate level. However, this contest was the first in which each Jihad brother made the starting lineup.

Basheer called starting alongside Yusuf a “blessing,” but said he tries as much as he can to approach games against his brother with a business as usual mindset. 

“That wasn't my matchup or anything, so it wasn't really no meat-on-meat guarding him, but it's cool to be out there with him. It's cool to compete,” Basheer said. 

Yusuf mostly agreed, although he did admit that he feels an extra edge when he knows he will be on the same court as his brother. Yusuf said it was cool to start against Basheer, but he was happier to even his score against Ball State to 2-2. 

Although Yusuf finished with just five points, he did sink a free throw in the final minute of the game to give Eastern Michigan its 58th, and final, point to secure a 58-56 win. 

Both Basheer and Yusuf said they began playing competitive basketball around the age of 11. Although Yusuf is nearly a year and a half older than Basheer, the two played together for much of their youth before Yusuf made his way to Oakland University for his first two years of college basketball. 

A year later, Basheer joined him at the division I level, suiting up for Ball State as a freshman. Yusuf said he didn’t transfer to Eastern Michigan just to be in the same conference as his younger brother, but did admit that it’s a perk. 

“Just checking in on the game after I play my game or vice versa, it's cool,” Yusuf said. “And you get to see your brother on film. We kind of keep in touch that way.”


Junior forward Basheer Jihad shoots the ball against Eastern Michigan Feb. 24 at Worthen Arena. Jihad had 18 points in the game. Andrew Berger, DN

Both Garrett Jihad, their father, and Ayesha Sharpe, their mother, called watching their sons play against each other “friendly competition.”

Despite never pushing Yusuf or Basheer into the sport, the two quickly realized it was what they were best at and loved most. Garrett even remembers Basheer and Yusuf’s first dunks, each when they were around 13 years old. 

In fact, much of their extended family has a rich history in basketball. Garrett’s grandfather, Vertis Zeigler, was on the original Harlem Globetrotters from 1944-1949, and Ernie Zeigler, Basheer and Yusuf’s uncle, is an assistant coach for Nebraska men’s basketball. 

Even two of the other five Jihad siblings are starting to play organized basketball, which Garrett said can make for a busy, yet exciting viewing schedule as parents.

“On a Tuesday at seven o'clock, we got three games going up all at once,” Garrett said. 

Garrett said he began to see Basheer put together the pieces to become a division I player during his junior year of high school, the same grade in which he saw Yusuf’s potential. 

“People would always come up to both of them and mention that they seemed like they had potential, even when they were in middle school,” Garrett said. 

Although Yusuf has proved to be a key role player for the Eagles this season, starting 10 of 27 games and averaging seven points per game, Basheer has come into his own as one of the MAC’s best in 2023-24. The junior forward is averaging the 4th-highest points per game in the conference with 19.1 and has put up nine double-doubles, leading the Cardinals in both points and rebounds. 

Yusuf said seeing his brother’s growth this season has been especially exciting for him, thinking back to when he remembered Basheer not feeling confident that he would even be able to get a division I scholarship. 

“From the outside looking in, to see that growth, it's crazy,” Yusuf said. “I'm proud of him.”


Junior forward Basheer Jihad looks for an opening against Eastern Michigan Feb. 24 at Worthen Arena. Jihad had three steals in the game. Andrew Berger, DN

Sharpe remembered a conversation had with Basheer earlier in the season, one where she complimented him on his breakout season, and what impressed her the most was his mature response to the praise. 

“He just told me, ‘It's just a matter of will and thinking positive,’” Sharpe said.

Garrett called Basheer’s progression as a player this season “stunning,” but he is even more proud that Basheer is making just as much of an effort to make sure basketball isn’t everything in his personal life, too. 

The father of seven reminisced on throwing the football to Yusuf and Basheer when they were young, always egging the two on and encouraging them to talk trash to each other as they playfully competed in childhood. However, Sharpe said the two have always been close and Garrett affirmed that belief. 

“They got each other's back,” Garrett said. “We’ll encourage that in them forever, long after we go on, just to look out for one another.” 

Sharpe thought back to a trip the family took to Tennessee when Basheer and Yusuf were toddlers, the first time she, Basheer and Yusuf had ever been on a flight. There was no particular reason the memory of that experience stood out, Sharpe said, but it is a moment she often recalls when thinking of her oldest children. 

“Seeing them real little and small, I miss that,” Sharpe said. “We've always been together, and we've always done things together as a family.”

Garrett, Sharpe and the rest of the family have been able to see Yusuf play collegiately more than Basheer just based on distance, but Sharpe said the family makes any game they can, especially when the two play one another. As he watched his siblings laugh and play basketball on the same court Basheer consistently leads the Cardinals on, Yusuf took a final moment to sum up his appreciation for his kin.

“To have a support system that not everybody has, it's most definitely a blessing, and something that we both do not take for granted,” Yusuf said.

Contact Kyle Smedley with comments via email at kyle.smedley@bsu.edu or on X @KyleSmedley_.


More from The Daily

This Week's Digital Issue

Loading Recent Classifieds...