A Closer Look At Shamiel Stevenson
Pitt head basketball coach Kevin Stallings and staff continue to aggressively hit the recruiting trail preparing for the departure of a large senior class. A quartet of talented 2017 players have already committed and signed their letters of intent: guards Marcus Carr and Aaron Thompson, forward Jared Wilson-Frame and forward/center Terrell Brown. Pitt has now placed a strong priority on physical Hillcrest Prep (UT) Wasatch Academy small forward Shamiel Stevenson (6-foot-6 inches, 228 pounds). Stevenson, originally from Canada, has scheduled an official visit to Pitt the weekend of January 27th – 29th.
To gain perspective on Pitt’s new priority recruit, I spoke with the Founder and CEO of Nike UPlay Canada Dwayne Washington. Coach Washington was asked to talk about Stevenson both on and off the court.
“I think in terms of muscle mass, fast twitch muscles, he’s going to be up among the top athletes playing in the ACC. The top 10% of athletes in the league in terms of physicality, vertical, agility, lateral quickness. As an athlete he’s up there,” said Washington.
“From a body standpoint, he’s physically ready to compete. Physically with muscle mass and strength, just naturally given from his mother and father, he has the physical part done. His hand size and width is phenomenal. He’s powerful, yet very graceful. We have a lot of guys that are really strong but they’re clumsy. He has a natural ability to be strong but finesse at the same time which makes him an enigma to a lot of coaches,” he said. “It’s really why he’s still open at this late period. He’s open because he doesn’t fit any mold. People are confused because they want to put him into a cookie cutter mold and he doesn’t fit that, which makes him intriguing. It means you have to have a system that he fits. You have to know what you’re looking for.”
“Based on what Coach Stallings did at Vanderbilt with bigger guards and getting them to certain levels, sometimes playing four guards at the same time, I can see why they are heavily after Shamiel. He fits their system. His strength, in addition to being an excellent passer and a very nice soft touch, is his defense. He can guard one, two, three, and some fours for a couple dribbles. He’s extremely strong so he could guard one to four to be honest with you.”
Stevenson, generally rated a three-star prospect by most of the major recruiting services, has received scholarship offers from Pitt, USC, Arizona State, Georgia Tech and VCU. Indiana, Utah State, Baylor, Florida and UCLA have also expressed interest in his services.
Coach Washington was asked about the Panthers chances of landing Stevenson. He replied, “Because of what Coach Stallings has done with players like him, the percentage is very high, in my opinion. It has a lot of do with his system.”
“In college basketball you have to fit a system. You can’t go to a school just because it’s in a top conference or it’s a top team or they play in a top league. The style of play has to fit and based on the work that Coach Stallings has done with guards and wings his size, we already know people don’t change,” he said. “We know Shamiel will be in a good position (at Pitt). Most people recruiting Shamiel say he’s a 4-man (power forward). Shamiel is a one hundred percent a 3-man (small forward / wing) that can play the 4 in stretches. He definitely a 3 that can play the 2 (shooting guard) if need be as well because he can handle it.”
“I believe Pitt’s chances of adding Shamiel are very high. Now, everything else, once he gets there, chemistry and how they see him, will determine that. Ultimately, they have a good chance of given the system that they play.”
Due to the significant amount of player graduating after the current season, Coach Stallings will need a number of his true freshmen to step up and play. Coach Washington was asked if Shamiel would be prepared for the rigors of ACC basketball. He stated, “Yes, Shamiel is 6-foot-6 inches and a solid 225 pounds. He looks like Charles Barkley if Charles Barkley was in shape. He’s a very strong young man.”
“He’s a very cut young man. The problem is he looks like a power guy and that confuses people. If he was 6-foot-8 inches tall, he would be a hell of a power forward but he’s 6-foot-6 inches tall so he’s more like a real three man, but his size makes people think he’s a four. This is why most school say he’s a power forward.”
“Positions are important based on who you’re guarding. On offense it’s not that important because he’s obviously a face up guy. He can get by you, he has a great crossover and all the moves, but it’s all about who you’re guarding. If coach wants a guy to block shots and get up and down and create mismatches, then Shamiel wouldn’t be his guy. If he’s looking for a traditional three, Shamiel would be his guy. If he’s looking for a traditional four, Shamiel wouldn’t be the guy. It just wouldn’t be good for the team or him. If you’re looking for a Swiss Army Knife-type of player, Shamiel could do that. He’s a good player that I believe can contribute early.”
Coach Washington mentioned that Pitt was a short, four-hour drive for Stevenson’s mother. This would certainly help in the decision making process. A number of schools pursuing him were significantly further away.
Pittsburgh sports fans were perpetually mesmerized by former eight time Pro-Bowl safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu has the demeanor a Shaolin monk off the football field and the tenacity of a savage competitor on it. Coach Washington indicated that Stevenson has a comparable mentality.
“Shamiel is a very quiet kid, very cerebral and thoughtful. He’s not a flamboyant kid. On the court he likes to compete but off the court he’s very artsy-type kid. He’s into music and generally very quiet, “he said. “That’s the other thing that makes him an enigma because he looks like he’s loud but then he’s really a soft spoken guy. This is what people say ‘I don’t know, I want a pit bull, I want somebody who hits somebody can rip somebody’s head off’ but off the court he doesn’t fit the stereotypical description that people want to say, but he’s a killer. Tim Duncan was a winner when he was a player, but he was a competitor, but he wasn’t loud. That’s what Shamiel is. He’s more of a quiet guy but a great competitor.”
“I know that Shamiel is looking forward to visiting Pitt.”
Harry G. Psaros can be found on twitter at @PittGuru