This archived article was written by: Benoni Sowah
When you hear the name Maxim Zakharov from Russia, you probably do not associate it with basketball. However, Max, as he is known at USU-CEU is developing his basketball presence on the court. He is 13th in the Scenic West Athletic Conference in assists, 12th in steals and 14th in three-point shots.
He is 21, an only child and from Shekino City of the Tula Region of Russia. He loves sports with his favorites playing soccer, running and alpine skiing.
Although he did other sporting activities, his love for basketball was great. He began playing when he was young. He played on his junior high school basketball team.
Zakharov decided to take advantage of his 6-foot, 2-inch height. He trained hard daily. While in Russia he played five years with the Central Sport Army Club: a huge sports sector in Russia. He played three years as an Olympic reserve in Saint Petersburg.
Kakharov said, “ I know how big basketball was in the United States and always dreamt of playing here one day.”
Finally with the help of his coach and family, he made it to USU-Eastern to play for the men’s basketball team. He was placed at EU through the University of Hawaii coaches who know Coach Brad Barton.
He knew little about America before he arrived in the state. All he knew was the knowledge he had from his geography class in Russia.
He found the United States to be a fascinating place. The education here was different from the Russian system. He could not understand people due to their accent and his inability to speak English fluently.
“ I was nervous to talk to people, not because I was shy, but I did not know what to say or if they would even understand me,” he said.
He naturally a quiet, but fun person to be around. He said that although he has a hard time speaking the English language, playing with other nationals on the basketball team is easier since they use a lot of inside terms and body language.
“ The game is not about language and talking, it all about skills, and that is easier,” Kakharov added.
It been almost five months now and his level of English has improved. He is not nervous to talk to people like he felt before. He is taking ESL classes at the college and that has helped him a lot.
Kakharov said he comes off to some people as arrogant because he is not noisy or loud. But he certainly loves to have fun. He likes to chat and go out to eat with friends.
Family means a lot to him. He loves his family and hopes that someday they would move to America. Although he considered his family as a middle class in Russia, he thinks that life in America is better than in Russia. He loves how law abiding most Americans are. He hopes to live in America, but would not forget his Russian roots.
He is a realist and does not claim any religion. He has read the Bible, Quran and is reading the Book of Mormon.
He is happy to be around good friends who have helped him to make good choices. “Whenever I say something bad or swear, my friends will tell me it is wrong to do that. Now I don’t say them anymore”.
He said he is happy to be in Utah and among a Mormon population. That has helped him a lot to improve upon his spirituality.
“ I believe that it is not too late to do what you have not done. And I want to thank all my friends, coaches and teachers for all they have done for me. I have got a lot of support since I came here. I thank them all “ Max said with some sobriety.
Coach Barton thinks Zakharov adds culture to the team. He has a great personality, good guy and gets along with everyone of the team. He likes his competitiveness and high goals and aspirations he has set for himself. His work ethic is strong and he should play professional ball someday. He’s got that kind of talent.
“Max struggled with adjusting to playing basketball in the states but he is probably one of the most talented players on the team.
Someday, Max hopes to play second or third position on a national team.