The moniker connotes a different personality from what teammates and coaches describe as one of the most affable members on the Hofstra Men’s Basketball program. A quick scan of Ameen Tanksley‘s Twitter profile shows the dichotomy between on-court tenacity and off-court approachability. Any thoughts that the guard might take him too seriously with the alias “Ameen Business” are quickly contrasted to a goofy pose of him next to a hoop.
That approachability has made Tanksley a leader for the Pride despite his Hofstra playing career consisting of less than a month. But while he is in the nascent stages of his tenure in Hempstead, Tanksley’s extensive history with Head Coach Joe Mihalich has made him a sought-after teammate for advice. Mihalich recruited Tanksley and Juan’ya Green out of the Philadelphia high school basketball hotbed to join him at Niagara. When Mihalich took over Hofstra’s head job before the 2013-14 season, the duo transferred with him, and have helped the Pride to a winning record in November and a 4-0 start at home.
“All the players like him,” Mihalich said. “He’s able to tell them what and how we operate and what we’re looking for. Because he’s so well-respected, it goes a long way.”
Tanksley is listed as a guard, though his 6-foot-5 frame and athletic ability helped him lead Niagara in rebounding in both of his seasons with the Purple Eagles. Despite sitting out the 2013-14 season as a transfer, Tanksley has started and scored in double figures through Hofstra’s first six games.
His versatility has made him one of the major scoring threats on the Pride, though Tanksley said he’s just looking to help the Pride fortify an identity as a team that shares the ball in favor of depending on only select individuals to generate offense every game.
“We have players who can step up every given night,” he said. “We don’t have selfish players. Anybody can get hot and get the offense going.”
It only took two games for Tanksley to solidify himself as an end-to-end contributor. Against a North Carolina State team that had 14,264 in attendance at PNC Arena, Tanksley notched 13 points and 10 rebounds in just 24 minutes.
“It did a lot for my confidence because if you can perform well against a high-major ACC team, you can compete against anybody,” Tanksley said.
Posting a double-double against a team that’s made the last three NCAA Tournaments marked a stellar effort in his first road game as a member of the Pride. It also built on a debut in which Tanksley scored 16 points in 24 minutes in an Opening Day win over Jacksonville.
“He’s our kind of guy because there’s always a mismatch when he’s involved and the matchup favors him, “Mihalich said. “It’s a classic case of his guard skills being too fast for the big guys and he’s too physical and tough for people smaller.”
The strong start belies what was a 12-month layoff of competitive action. Though Tanksley was able to practice with the team, his last appearance in a game before the Jacksonville contest was in the MAAC Tournament for the Purple Eagles in 2013. While exhibiting a cool demeanor and performing at a high level immediately, Mihalich was reminded in the preseason that Tanksley was coming off a year-long abeyance.
“I think of him like Superman and I forget sometimes that he can get a little nervous,” Mihalich. “He told me before we scrimmaged Saint Joseph’s that he hadn’t done this in awhile and he was anxious. We hold him in such high regard that we forget he hasn’t played and can be rusty.”
That confidence and trust started when Tanksley was starring for Imhotep Charter as a Philadelphia-area prep player. A two-time all-state selection, he led the Panthers to a pair of state championships and cracked the 1,000-point mark in winning consecutive Public League championships.
Mihalich has long-time ties to Philadelphia after serving as an assistant at La Salle from 1981-98. That helped him make inroad while recruiting both Tanksley and Green from Archbishop John Carroll. Mihalich said it was a mixture of ability and attitude that drew him in particular to Tanksley.
“He always had a great skill set, but the more you got to know him, I found out that he’s such a great guy,” Mihalich said. “He has a great sense of humor and he gets along with everybody. Every guy on that roster has a favorite teammate and I would say most of the players would say Ameen is theirs.”
Mutual respect was expressed by Tanksley for his coach, who said he did not hesitate to move from Niagara to Hofstra when his mentor changed jobs. It helped that Green, who was one of his best friends when they played in Buffalo, was also on board to transfer to the Pride.
“He’s a great guy and an honest man,” Tanksley said of Mihalich. “He makes everybody feel at home. I didn’t want to play for anyone else, so when he made the decision to come here, it wasn’t a tough one at all.”
Tanksley was recruited by Hofstra out of high school, but said he didn’t know what to expect until he decided to follow his teammate and coach. Playing in the Colonial Athletic Association as well as the Mack Sports Complex was an intriguing prospect. Factor in the facility upgrade that came with the building of the new Hofstra Basketball Practice Facility, along with the ability of his family to attend more home games, and Tanksley said the decision was sound.
“My family enjoys coming to the games and being from Philly, it was a good adjustment,” he said. “Going to Niagara, it was quieter and more rural.”
Tanksley described his relationship with Green as “like brothers” and said each one pushes the other to improve.
“We’ve been close to sixth grade and ever since I’ve known him, we’ve had great chemistry,” Green said. “He’s one of the toughest guys on the team. He’s not going to let you stop him. If he wants the ball, he’ll get it.”
Tanksley might be business-like on the court, but his 21,000-plus tweets and social media presence has shown the outside world the personality that has made him a go-to leader on the team. It has also helped Hofstra in its outreach to the fans and campus community, which culminated with a good crowd that saw Hofstra defeat Stony Brook in a local rivalry game on Dion Nesmith‘s near last-second shot.
“I like meeting people and networking and having fun,” Tanksley said. “On the court I’m not too funny, but once the game ends, I like making people laugh.”