Photo courtesy of Saint Peter’s University Athletics.
By David Cordova
Article on St. Peter’s
Everywhere he has gone, Shaheen Holloway has prided himself on being successful. During his high school days at the now-defunct St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey, he rose from obscurity to become a McDonald’s All-American and one of the top high school players in his class. During his college days at Seton Hall, he was one of the best guards in the Big East Conference.
And then for the last 12 years, he has been successful as a college coach on the Division I level under Kevin Willard at both Iona College and at his alma mater, Seton Hall. Now, he is on to a brand new act. Being a head coach.
On April 10th, 2018, he was named the head coach at St. Peter’s University, which is located in Jersey City, New Jersey, and is a part of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Now, almost a year later, he has gone through one full season as the skipper of the Peacocks.
When asked about his mission at St. Peter’s from Day 1, he replied, “You know what, it was just, come in and start a different culture. You know, I wanted to get [New York] City kids to come here, get Jersey kids to come here, keep the local kids home. In my first year, getting KC [Ndefo] to come, getting Dallas [Watson] to come, getting Klay [Brown] to come was a big step for us. It was just, try to come in and establish my own identity.”
On coming to St. Peter’s after his time at Seton Hall as associate head coach, Holloway replied, “The AD, [Pat Lyons], I trust him, you know, he worked at Seton Hall. I know him, I believe in his vision, and then also, you always want a chance to be your own boss. You know, I put the time in, I’ve been an assistant coach for 13 years, I thought it was time.”
Sometimes, being a head coach has its struggles. For Holloway, there was plenty of them this season, as the Peacocks finished 10-22 on the season. “To tell you, the truth, it’s been a learning experience, it’s been tough,” recounted Holloway on his first season as a head coach, “I’m not really used to losing like this. But I’ve got guys that play their heart out for me, so I can’t complain. I knew it was going to be a little bit of a struggle, [but], it’s a process, and I understand that. I’m so competitive, that’s why I’m really, I get [frustrated]. I’m not used to [losing], and I don’t want the guys to get used to [losing]. But winning the last three out of four, is showing that within the year, guys are buying into what I’m trying to sell and we’re starting to turn the corner a little bit.”
When asked about how it feels to be a head coach, he replied, “You know what, I’ve been very fortunate at Seton Hall. Coach Willard gave me a great opportunity, and I was an associate head coach there for eight years, and he let me run the program, so it’s been good being my own boss, but at the same time, I had some experience at Seton Hall, because Coach Willard was very helpful with that.”
With seniors such as forward Samuel Idowu and Dahvaunte Turner graduating, the Peacocks will be bringing back a large assortment of players back next season, such as 6-foot-3 junior guard Cameron Jones (9.1 points and four rebounds per game), 6-foot-4 freshman Dallas Watson (8.3 points and 2.7 assists per game), 6-foot-4 junior forward Quinn Taylor (7.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game), 6-foot-6 freshman forward KC Ndefo (7.6 points and five rebounds per game), 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman forward Manny Dixon (5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per game) and 6-foot-8 redshirt junior forward Derrick Woods (4.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game).
Other additions who have not played this season are 6-foot-4 redshirt sophomore guard Nazeer Bostick, who sat out this season after transferring from Penn State and 6-foot-2 redshirt freshman guard Mikko Johnson, who has sat out the last two seasons due to injury, and will step onto the court next season.
On the recruiting front, the Peacocks have hit the ground running with commitments from Hassane Drame and Fousseyni Drame, two twin brothers that stand 6-foot-7, play the forward position, and attend Our Saviour New American School in Centerach, New York, and have also landed the commitment of 6-foot-3 guard Daryl Banks III of The Patrick School in Hillside, New Jersey. All three are expected to sign their formal letters of intent during the spring signing period from April through May of this year.
When asked what players should be paid attention to next season, Holloway replied, “I think, you know, Nazeer Bostick, from Penn State is going to be big for me next year. I think Dallas [Watson] is going to take another step in the right direction, I think KC [Ndefo], he’s showing a lot of strides right now, he’s going to take another step in the right direction. Quinn [Taylor], Derrick [Woods], everybody who’s coming back, Manny [Dixon], Klay [Brown], Majur [Majak], I’m looking forward to all of these guys taking steps in my second year of being here.”
Although Season 1 hasn’t been kind to Shaheen Holloway, there’s a chance that Season 2 will be even better. Every year, with experience, things get better and better. As the Peacocks continue to grow, there will be plenty of good coming out of the learning lessons that the players are receiving at this moment.
When asked about the future at Saint Peter’s, Holloway replied, “I’m excited, and I think that the community at St. Peter’s should be excited, because it’s going to be a great brand of basketball, hopefully, they got a chance to show it a bit this year. I’ve been undermanned the whole year, having guys hurt, having only seven, eight scholarship players, but I’m looking forward to getting everyone healthy, and just coming back next year looking for something to prove.”
Sometimes, you must start from the bottom to get to the top. Right now, the St. Peter’s Peacocks have nowhere to go but up. It’ll take a little bit of time, but then when they get to their peak, it’ll be nothing but good things to watch.