Not every basketball player has the chance to remain in the game after their playing days, but for Seton Hall’s Shaheen Holloway, it’s like he never left.
Now the associate head coach on the Pirates’ staff, Holloway was a former standout guard at the Hall between 1996 and 2000 and an administrative assistant in 2006 and 2007.
“Anytime you get a chance to come back and be part of the family it’s unbelievable,” Holloway said. “I’m happy to be here.”
Holloway’s return to the Hall came after three years of experience coaching under Kevin Willard’s staff at Iona. There, he developed a strong rapport with Willard, and naturally followed him to Seton Hall in 2010.
A four-time All-Metropolitan player and three-time All-Big East select, Holloway cemented his legacy by accumulating the most assists (681), third-most steals (231), and seventh-most three-pointers (185) in school history.
He began building his legacy quickly, as he was thrust into significant minutes early in his career.
“I think I got LaVell Sanders and Donnell Williams to kinda take me under their wing a bit,” Holloway said. “They definitely did, but I kind of learned on the fly as well.”
Beyond individual growth and accolades, Holloway was key to the Pirates’ developing a winning culture. He Pirates guided the team to the Sweet Sixteen in his last season.
Taking all that he’s learned from his playing career and time at Iona, Holloway intended to restore Seton Hall to its former dominance. For Holloway, that starts with finding the right players.
“I’m not your typical coach,” Holloway said. “I don’t go and look for guys that can score. Everybody can score. I look and see what we need and what they can bring to the table if they’re good kids and if they want to do things the right way.”
According to his players, Holloway understands that the transition from high school to college is all about mentality.
“For the most part he’s trying to help me with the adjustment between high school and college,” freshman guard Eron Gordon said. “He tries to get me thinking that way, and that’s the biggest deal with Coach Sha. To really get me to think like a college player instead of a high school player.”
Once the transition is made, Holloway’s guidance and mentoring focuses on the finer points of the game. Junior guard Khadeen Carrington said that, with Holloway’s help, he was able to adjust his college hoops expectations.
“It’s a lot of attention to detail,” Carrington said, describing his work with Holloway. “He likes everything perfect and that’s what I try to strive for every day.”
It’s Holloway’s detail-oriented coaching that helped restore the Pirates to a powerhouse in both the Big East and the nation, with the highlight coming in last year’s tournament appearance.
Prior to this, Seton Hall had not competed in March Madness in nine years, and only twice since Holloway’s Sweet Sixteen run at the turn of the millennium.
When the coaching staff features someone who has seen the success as a player, and at the same program, it makes a difference.
“Vital,” head coach Kevin Willard said of Holloway’s role. “To have someone that went to school here, played here, understands the conference, understands the area. Coming up the way – the same way these guys came up – highly recruited, talented. To have his wisdom and be able to pass it on has been as valuable as anything.”
Being involved with his alma mater naturally motivates Holloway, but the assistant has high aspirations for his coaching career.
“I have future goals to be a head coach, that’s always part of it,” Holloway said. “But I’m just happy to be back here. This is my home and I wanna continue my career here. I wanna finish my career here.”
When it comes to his future progression in coaching, Holloway is in no hurry. Instead, he is focused on continuing to grow Seton Hall basketball, just as he did as a player.
“I’m not in no rush,” Holloway said. “I just want to continue to build the program and build our brand up and making sure this is a great place where kids wanna come and play at.”
Kyle Kasharian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.