By Corbin McGuire
The past two years when recruits came to K-State for a visit, Shane Southwell would joke — or maybe he was serious — that the best player they would face would not be named Xavier Sneed, Dean Wade or Barry Brown, Jr.
It would be him. (For what it’s worth, he would tell those Wildcats the same thing.)
Now, Southwell will be more than a confident graduate assistant who’s a few years removed from playing professionally. After being promoted to K-State’s director of student-athlete development on May 17, the 27-year-old can be a bridge to that type of success on and off the court.
“Being younger helps to be a bridge for the student-athletes and be somebody the student-athletes can relate to,” the Harlem, New York native said, “as well as being from the inner city, being a young African-American male or a guy that literally just did it a few years back, in terms of winning, leading and being a successful student-athlete at Kansas State.”
As a player for K-State (2010-14), Southwell started on a Big 12 Championship team as a junior. As a senior, he became one of the only eight players in program history to reach the NCAA Tournament in all four years of his career. He finished with 92 wins as a Wildcat, tied for ninth in program history.
These experiences, Southwell said, should garner some trust quickly with the student-athletes, that what he’s telling them is coming from a place of success.
“They know that I played and that I have a good basketball IQ,” he said, “and my resume, in terms of winning, especially at this program, means a lot.”
Southwell said he also knows his basketball success did not happen organically.
As much as anything else, it was connected to his academics, something he realized before his last two seasons. Between his junior and senior seasons, Southwell started 59 games and averaged 9.1 points and 2.6 assists. His first two years: 19 starts, 2.6 points and 1.7 assists.
“I always performed better on the court when I was doing better (in the classroom), when my GPA was a lot higher,” Southwell said. “Using basketball as a springboard for life…once my junior year came, I took life seriously and I took basketball seriously at the same time. A lot of that had to do with me being better with my academics.
“Every young individual has to go through that maturation process. Some people go through it in harder ways than others, and mine was simply just, ‘Shane, wake up.’ Hopefully I can get these student-athletes to wake up their first day on campus.”
How he does so, Southwell said, will be a work in progress on his part. This role, which does not allow him to coach on the floor, is brand new to him. Southwell does plan to lean on a few things he has going for him, however.
To start, Southwell’s predecessor, Jermaine Henderson, was promoted to fill Chester Frazier’s spot as an assistant coach. So, Southwell said he plans to continue to learn from Henderson, whose best advice so far has been: “Be a mentor, be a bridge, and be you.”
“I watched him daily and learned a lot from Jermaine,” Southwell said, “and one of the biggest things I learned is being a good person and having great energy every single day, it helps. It’s contagious.”
Southwell also has experience on his side, not only with the program, its coaches and players, but also with the support staff he’ll be working more closely with in his new role. This includes people like academic counselor Maryclare Wheeler and assistant director/student-academic services Liane Fowler.
“It helps tremendously for me, knowing them and having a relationship with them. Maryclare and Ms. Liane have been tremendous. They have been a rock in my academic career and helped me transition from an immature young man to, hopefully, a mature man that you see today,” Southwell said. “Them helping me to learn the new role and them being here for so long will help me tremendously.”
Additionally, Southwell has his education he can use.
He received his master’s degree in academic advising this month from K-State. It’s a feat he’s extremely proud of because of where he came from. It’s also a two-year experience he can utilize in his first full-time job in the college basketball world.
“My years of learning a lot about the advising roles definitely translate to the job and translates to how you handle student-athletes, in terms of getting guys to the right resources on campus and off campus; making sure the mental wellness of student-athletes is at their highest peak, whether it’s for performing as a student-athlete or performing as a student,” Southwell said. “I can definitely use a lot of the great resources that I got from my master’s degree.”
Most of all, Southwell is simply excited. Excited to stay at his alma mater in a full-time role. Excited to impact the program in a different way. Excited continue to learn from a staff led by Bruce Weber.
“It’s a blessing,” Southwell said. “It’s great for me to start my young career at my alma mater, a winning program, a program that obviously under Coach Weber has been going through such glorious times, winning two Big 12 Championships in the last seven years. Being part of that means the world.”
This article originally appeared on KStateSports.com on May 29, 2019 https://www.kstatesports.com/news/2019/5/29/mens-basketball-se-southwell-ready-to-be-a-bridge-for-k-state-mbb-players-in-new-role.aspx