"They kept asking me 'What are you doing here? Are you a terrorist?' And if I was here to harm the country."
Kazemi enrolled at The Patterson prep school in North Carolina, easing his homesickness by talking to his mother every day.
"It was really hard on me, I knew just enough English to get by in school," he said. "I was so homesick I carried my laptop everywhere to talk with my mom. I was nicknamed the 'laptop guy.'
"It was so bad, he would be on Skype in the car, in the mall, in the gym," Ibrahim added. "At one point we said 'OK that's enough put the laptop down tell Mom nice talkin' to ya. You're going to be OK'."
He was missing home, but Kazemi was taking the basketball court by storm and college coaches were noticing.
Upon graduating from Patterson, Kazemi was heavily recruited by college teams and offered scholarships across the nation. He chose the academically prestigious Rice University in Houston, which has a large Iranian community and is where Ibrahim lived.
During his three years there, he led his Conference in rebounding and ranked among the top three rebounders nationwide.
He says he also came face to face with the type of situation that had concerned him before he left Iran.
After his junior year, he asked for and received a National Collegiate Athletic Association hardship waiver to transfer to Oregon where he competed in his senior year.
According to Sports Illustrated, the hardship had to do with derogatory comments allegedly made by the Rice athletic director based on ethnicity and religion. Kazemi is Muslim.
"He made some comments that made me uncomfortable," said Kazemi, who declined to specify what the comments were. "I was approaching an important year and I wanted to focus on basketball without worrying about what he was saying."
The athletic director, Rick Greenspan, who has since left Rice himself, denied any allegations of discriminatory treatment during Kazemi's time at Rice.
With the Ducks, Kazemi got lots of playtime and instantly became a fan favorite.
"If you're an athlete in Oregon they treat you like a celebrity," Kazemi said. "I got to experience having a home crowd. It's an amazing feeling when you hear 12,000 people chanting your name."
Fans were intrigued by his superstar ability on the court, but also his facial hair. At games, students would wear fake handlebar mustaches to support their favorite player.
Kazemi led the Ducks, who were seeded No. 12, to their first NCAA tournament since 2008. He averaged 9.4 points, 10 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.4 assists and he was named an all-Pac-12 honorable mention.
The Ducks had a deep run in the tournament, but lost the Sweet Sixteen game to the No. 1 overall seed and eventual champion Louisville
In that game, Kazemi dropped a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing a dozen rebounds -- a performance that put him on the radar of NBA scouts.
Two weeks later Kazemi skipped graduation ceremonies to work out with the Atlanta Hawks, one of a dozen NBA teams that invited the power forward to their pre-draft workouts.
His mother and sister were granted temporary visas to surprise him on draft night. Kazemi says he was shocked when he became the second round pick of the Washington Wizards, who traded him to Philadelphia in a matter of hours.
"He looked at me and said 'we really did it,'" Ibrahim said. "I said no you did it, AK. He got on the court and worked hard for six years. Youngsters in that region are looking up to that boy, he's a great role model."