Basketball takes Hampton’s Mark Shehady halfway around world
Friday, February 21, 2020 | 2:25 PM
Becoming a coach involves plenty of travel. It can take you around the country and sometimes around the world. That’s part of the job.
If Point Park junior and Hampton graduate Mark Shehady is to one day become a coach, he already has that part covered.
Shehady, a point guard, travels across the country in the offseason with Jason Otter Basketball, helping younger players reach their potential and earn scholarships.
But a unique opportunity last fall took him much farther than the states.
He was one of three players chosen by Point Park coach Joe Lewandowski to represent Team USA in the FIBA 3×3 U23 World Cup Oct. 2-6 in Lanzhou, China.
“It was just an awesome experience,” Shehady said. “The game is totally different. The fanbase is surreal. We played outside to a packed stadium most of the time. It was nice for an undersized guard because there was a lot more spacing to go in and make some reads and create opportunities.”
His disposition as someone who was never the biggest or fastest player on the court has become an advantage.
“Mark is maybe not the most athletic kid,” Lewandowski said. “But boy, does he know how to compete. He gets the most out of what he has. He plays hard and is a great leader. He’s started most of the games. Sometimes he comes off the bench, but he understands.
“He’s been everything you want out of a student-athlete.”
Perhaps this is why Shehady enjoys helping others at Jason Otter’s School of Basketball, where he is a counselor after spending years in the program as a player.
“Our system is based on helping the underdogs,” he said. “The undersized kids, kind of like myself, reach scholarship level by maximizing their athletic ability.”
By offering more detail and breaking down things like movement and efficiency, the program’s philosophy helps close the gap for kids who might be facing more length and athleticism.
“I could rely on my quickness in high school,” Shehady said. “But players on the block in the ’80s and ’90s are on the perimeter now. They are becoming stronger and more athletic.
“I saw the results of the system. If you go through the progressions, it really does pay off. But the last couple of years, I just started teaching. The best way to learn the skills is to teach it.”
His work with Otter has taken Shehady around the country, including New Mexico, Chicago and Texas.
The junior point guard is averaging 16 minutes with 5.0 points and 1.9 rebounds this season. The team started 14-15 (6-8 River States Conference), a big improvement from the 4-22 record of his freshman season.
Some might remember him as a major part of Hampton’s last team to make the WPIAL finals in 2017. The Talbots pulled off a major upset against No. 1 Mars and Notre Dame recruit Robby Carmody en route to a WPIAL runner-up finish and state tournament berth.
But that seemingly was just the beginning for Shehady, who found himself halfway around the world playing against professionals from other countries.
“That’s one of those things that builds your program,” said Lewandowski, who thinks Point Park might be the first NAIA school to participate in the event.
“Getting the chance to represent your country is as special as you can get. To give local Pittsburgh kids those opportunities, I think Mark is right. It catapults those guys. They see where the game can take them. All over the world. Playing, coaching, training. The opportunities are there.”
In some respects, his penchant for learning the game and teaching it to others is no surprise.
Shehady’s older sister Renee, whom he has cited as an inspiration, played at Bethany and runs her own AAU program, 4 Seasons Hoops. It’s no wonder Shehady, a business management major, sees coaching in his future with Jason Otter and beyond.
“He’s just really an extension of what you’re trying to do,” Lewandowski said. “He just has a great feel for it. Those are things you can’t teach. Most kids are intrinsically motivated to worry about themselves. He doesn’t have that in him.”
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