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Signing day: Dad's pushing helps Nehme ink with Montana State

By: Brent W. New preps@gazette.com
November 13, 2013 Updated: November 13, 2013 at 9:34 pm
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Cheyenne Mountain swimmers Sydney Buckley, left, and Morgan Wice, right, sign their letters of intent as their parents watch over their shoulders Wednesday, November 13, 2013. Buckley will be swimming for the University of North Texas and Weis will be swimming at the University of Denver. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

With his letter of intent to play basketball at Montana State in front of him, Ghassan Nehme looked over at his proud dad sitting in the Cheyenne Mountain cafeteria, thought of all those memories the two shared on the court - and smiled.

"I wouldn't be here or even close to this point without him," said an emotional Nehme. "This day is an accumulation of everything he went through to get the best out of me."

It wasn't a journey without its bumps though. Nehme, who joined four other Division-I signees from Cheyenne Mountain on Wednesday, remembers it all started with butting heads.

For Nehme's whole life, his Lebanese-born father wanted his son to give it his best effort in every facet of life, including in the gym. While Ghassan Nehme Sr. saw his son's talent clearly was evident in basketball early on, he remembers pushing and pushing to get his son's commitment to the game to the same level.

"He was so good so young that it was tough to always get him to work at his hardest," said Nehme Sr., 46, who played professionally in Italy. "I remember us clashing all the time. I was tough on him. I even had to kick him out of the gym a couple times. . It wasn't always the easiest."

But days like Wednesday proved it was worth it. Nehme, who averaged 18.8 points last season as a shooting guard in the Indians' run to the state quarterfinals, took another step in a life he has dramatically transformed on and off the court over the past two years.

Since receiving interest from Northern Colorado after his freshman year, Nehme has become the leader of his high school team, worked with Lucian Pesoli to become a better player and transformed himself from a C-student to an A-student in hopes of grabbing the attention of more D-I schools.

Meanwhile his father, who admits he was thankful to "just sit back and enjoy watching his son over the past couple of years instead of coaching him," watched the 6-foot-3 senior make it official with Montana State.

Nehme, who had interest from other D-I schools like Colorado, Colorado State and Wyoming, said he will be groomed to play point guard for the Bobcats.

"I will still play the shooting guard (for Cheyenne Mountain) this season as we go for a title," Nehme said. "But once I get to Montana, the coaches have told me I'll be groomed to play the point guard position. First things first though."

After the ceremony, son and father embraced and enjoyed the moment, which came on the backside of an incredible journey of love and perseverance.

"I remember people would come up to me and say, 'You are pushing your son too hard," Nehme Sr. said. "I would say, 'Really? Of course I'm going to push my son the hardest I can so he can become the best he can be, and I'm going to be there for everything he needs along the way.' I couldn't be more proud of him. This is the best feeling a father can have."

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