PROVIDENCE â As if on cue, God Shammgod started talking about Ricky Ledoâs situation.
Mind you, there wasnât a lead-in question posed to Shammgod with the intent of correlating his two-year playing stint at Providence College to the same temptations of leaving school prematurely that Ledo will deal with soon enough. Sitting in Alumni Hallâs cafeteria the other day, the conversation with the now 36-year-old Shammgod began with how much heâs enjoyed being back on PCâs campus as an undergrad student and a member of Ed Cooleyâs basketball staff.
âProvidence helped mold the person I am. Without being the person I am today, I wouldnât have been able to last this long,â stated Shammgod, his voice full of battle-hardened wisdom thatâs unquestionably been shaped by a basketball odyssey that saw him follow the bouncing ball in this country â a 20-game NBA stint with the Washington Wizards in 1997-98 â and on the other side of the globe.
The point guard blessed with a quick handle smiles when talking about the two MVPs he won while playing in China, and how in the same country, he received the most All-Star Game votes for an import during one season. His face turns serious when traveling back to the spring of 1997 when a then-sophomore Shammgod decided to strike while the iron was hot and test pro basketballâs waters.
âThat probably wasnât my biggest mistake, but one (that helped mold) the learning curve of my life," reflects Shammgod. âIf you donât learn from mistakes, then itâs a problem for you. Going through that in 1997 helped me come full circle in 2013.â
The well-traveled Shammgod is then asked about how he explains his own life experience should todayâs Providence players inquire. These days, he only not finds himself applying the finishing touches to a degree in education â Jan. 2014 is when he expects to complete his requirements â but also serving as basketballâs version of a life coach to a group of young men who have their futures ahead of them.
Shammgod has a lot to offer, particularly to one member of this yearâs Providence team. Like Shammgod did some 16 years ago, Ledo stares out at a future filled with allure and promise, though nothing is guaranteed.
âI talk a lot about taking advantage of their current situations, especially with Ricky,â said Shammgod. âHeâs in a similar situation that I was in. Itâs beyond basketball at this point and thatâs what I talk to him about.â
In some ways, Shammgod and Ledo are basketball blood brothers. They were hardwood royalty before setting foot on PCâs campus; the only difference is that Shammgodâs rise to McDonaldâs All-American status was not publicized in the same all-out fashion that gripped the highly-touted Ledo.
âEveryone can touch the kids today,â notes Shammgod.
Shammgod was 21 when he declared for the NBA Draft while Ledo sits out PCâs season as a 20-year-old redshirt freshman undoubtedly envisioning whatâs in store should he decide to travel down the same road that looks and feels awfully familiar to a certain ex-Friar.
âWhen youâre hot, everybody says everything is hot. Everything is good, but nobody ever tells you about the âwhat ifs?â Everyone is riding the same wave at the same time,â Shammgod explains. âI can tell about the âwhat ifs?â because Iâve been through them.
âThe one thing I wish I could do over is become a full person while I was in college, âShammgod delves deeper. âWhether it was six more months I needed or two more years, just becoming a full person âŠ I got to the cusp of evolving and I rushed Godâs plans.â
Shammgod befriended several members of Ledoâs family when he attended PC the first time around. Years have passed with the shoe now on the other foot â Shammgod serving as a concrete example of what lurks behind the curtain should you forgo any remaining eligibility.
âI think itâs beneficial because Ricky can see something live and in proof,â Shammgod said. âHe gets to hear stories from me.â
Shammgod expressed that the more he gets to know the Providence native Ledo, the more he wishes the best for him. When PC is on the road, Shammgod spends time with Ledo â along with Tyler Harris, another PC Friar sitting out this season â to work on his game, while taking the opportunity to go over finer points that have nothing to do with putting a basketball through a hoop.
âThe one thing about Ricky that people should know is that Ricky is a very, very intelligent kid,â he stresses. âHe thinks about life after basketball and his options about leaving and staying. What are the good and bad points? Heâs really receptive to that.
âRicky is ahead of the curve. I donât think people ever saw that because of the environments he was in,â Shammgod added. âI think people have a false perception of him and I think this is the first time people have seen Ricky in a stable environment.â
In that department, Shammgod feels Cooley deserves a ton of credit.
âBeing here with coach Cooley and Providence, it will make him a better young man and a basketball player at the same time, and I think Ricky should embrace that challenge,â Shammgod feels. âI think the most important thing is that he has a coach like Ed.â
In PCâs media guide, Shammgod is listed as undergrad student assistant coach. That only begins to describe his true worth to the Friars â when class lets out at 9:30 at night, heâll head to Alumni Hall and hoop it up with any interested player. By forgoing the last two years on his playing contract in China, he kicked off what he hopes is a long and prosperous coaching career, while at the same time, finish up his degree.
âI talk about God Shammgod from PC, God Shammgod with the Wizards, and God Shammgod from China,â he said. âIn life there are stages; you canât talk about one stage without talking about the other.â
Such advice only comes through walking the walk, something Shammgod clearly has and can remind Ledo of whenever the two are in each otherâs company.
RIM RATTLERS: When St. Johnâs visits Providence on Saturday night, the Red Storm will take the court minus the services of leading scorer DâAngelo Harrison. The school announced Friday that the sophomore guard is suspended for the seasonâs duration. Harrison was averaging 17.8 ppg. âŠ With a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament already secure, PC heads into the final three games of the regular season with two clear-cut objectives: obtain the highest seed possible and sharpen up its postseason prospects. The 7-8 Friars enter Saturdayâs action ninth in the conference standings, with the 8-7 Red Storm directly above them.