Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Uno En Uno With: Shamir Ivey, TCA Basketball

ZS: Coming from Simeon, a perennially potent program which always has talent, how have you used this prep year to keep your basketball aspirations alive?

SI: It hurt bad last year, because losing that full year really hurt my progress and then ultimately my process. In a way, it made me want to just push harder and make up for lost time. It made me want to start over on a straight path and come here to Conrad Academy in Orlando and push for success.

ZS: On a team stacked with guards, you've been getting on the boards lately and hustling in the trenches. How do you pinpoint your exact role in this environment, especially when your flanked by some committed guys and some high-major prospects every day?

SI: Basically, I describe my role as a hard-worker. Most of my coaches always tell me they want me to work to my athleticism. So what I like to do more in games--because I know I can score the ball--is the extra things that help the team. Dive for the ball, make sure I get down the court on less dribbles, get some rebounds, make sure I'm elevated from the ground when I shoot my jump shots and just focus on the little things where I leave a little room for error in my game.

ZS: It's no secret Chicago has a rich tradition of basketball. Countless legendary players are still involved in the game and the basketball culture. Who are some guys you've taken after? Who has been an influential figure and propelled you throughout the hoops journey?

SI: There's a guy named Tony Bennett. He's from out west, it's called the village. Basically, I've been watching him play for a few years. I always watch him play and ask him questions. The type of player he is, he loves to score. So I picked up on his game.

In high school, I watched Jabari Parker.  I've known him since I was in grammar school. We text on the phone every now and then, we've worked a couple of times. One thing he always told me to do is stay focused, weed out all distractions and keep a goal-oriented mindset. That's the best way to position yourself for success and also gain an upper hand on someone who wants it just as bad as you.

ZS: Teammates describe you as a rather cool customer, amongst a number of high-strung teammates. How does this calming demeanor rub off on your teammates and does it help that your style off the court mirrors who you are on the court?

SI: I describe my role as an energizer and a hustle guy who gives the team everything I can. Rebounds, steals, shots, whatever it is coach Brad (Traina) needs from me I'll do.

 But addressing what you said, I like to keep a positive mindset. We have a lot of guards so I try to play outside of my position a lot, which we need on a smaller team. I also try to keep everyone hungry and working for it at all times.

ZS: How has your role changed looking back on your HS career and now adapting to Prep?

SI: My freshman year, when I went to Phillips, my role was to facilitate the team and get everyone involved. We thrived off a lot of ball movement and always made that extra pass. Here, I'm just more of a glue guy that will do the little things to help us win.

ZS: Few can simulate the pain you've endured these past seven months. How have you worked in memory of your brother's death and what do you do spiritually in keeping his presence alive with you?  

SI: Basically, in his memory, I've changed my life around. I live by a motto FINAO-Failure Is Not An Option. We raised FINAO up in Chicago. So basically, he raised FINAO. So basically I'm staying focused because of him.

Every time I'm in the gym, I think of him. Every time I grind, I think of him. Every step and every decision I make I think of him. Because when he was here, on this earth, Saieed tried to always make the best decision for himself. I also look out for my family, because that's what he always did. When I'm on the court, I try to always give it 100 percent because that's something he loved doing.

ZS: It's certainly not easy to be a young man and move away from home after a tragedy of this magnitude. What kind of impact has the aftermath of his death had on you?

SI: His death brought me closer to my family. So, every vacation I get I cherish being with my family. Every time I get a chance to or every time I'm on the phone with family I tell them "I love them" because you never really know when the last time you will talk to them.

ZS: Favorite memory of you and Saieed?

SI: We have a lot of memories. One of the memories that stands out was when I went out to Cali to visit during spring break, around April. I went out there. We want to the gym, we want to parties, man we had fun. I learned a lot from him. I basically learned a lot from him, my whole life I have, but that time in particular. That's one of my favorite memories with him, re-connecting during that trip.

ZS: Goals moving forward?

SI: The goal is to keep pushing myself hard. I go by the motto, "I'm either going to fall out or I'm going to finish." So I'm either going to give it 100 percent or it's not going to be a complete effort and I know I'm not stopping. So I'm going to continue to grow, continue to get better, I want to continue to work on my athleticism. I think I'm pretty good with shooting and dribbling, but I want to focus more on my defense and get my shot-blocking and game-changing on the defensive side better. That's my focus.

ZS: You moved away from home during a difficult period of your life, yet you transitioned just fine. What helped make Central Florida your second home?

SI:  This is my first time living outside of Chicago, so I've met all types of personalities and like all types of cultures. There are Australians here, there are French people here. You've got a lot of different people. It's a melting pot. 

What I also like about Conrad is the coaches really push you and make you work on what's best for you. I'd really got to thank my coach Brad Traina, for helping me improve on the court and in the weight room everyday. He's shown me my strengths and limitations and helped me work on things in effort to make me better.

Tweaks you've made to your game and style of play at the prep route?

SI: I used to be more of a flashy type player. What coach Brad has helped me do is keep it simple and learn how to get to the rim with less dribbles. He's helped me lose some weight and learn how to push myself without having someone right there pushing me. He also helped me jumping-wise, with my vertical.