Sitting out and watching your team play can be one of the hardest obstacles in a college athlete’s career.
For junior transfer Mike Shaw, this year has been difficult at times, but the former high school standout has found his place on the Hilltop. He transformed into one of the key leaders on the men’s basketball team while he sits out due to NCAA transfer rules. Out of Chicago and De La Salle High School, Shaw was recruitedas one of the top 100 players in the country and attracted attention nationwide. Eventually, Shaw decided to stay closer to home and chose the University of Illinois.
“Everyone was just so supportive,” Shaw said. “Schools from everywhere were recruiting [me] out of high school.”
But as things didn’t pan out they way he wanted, and Illinois fired Coach Bruce Weber to hire current Illini coach John Groce. Shaw saw decreased playing time and decided it was best for him and his family to look elsewhere.“I don’t regret anything,” Shaw said. “I believe that everything worked out for the best, and I have an opportunity to do great things here at Bradley.”Shaw found Bradley after Coach Ronald Coleman, who was Shaw’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) coach since seventh grade, and Coach Geno Ford showed him around campus. The idea of staying close to home made Bradley a “no-brainer” for Shaw. for Shaw.
Shaw credits his grandparents with raising him and eventually helping him make the decision to transfer. He said they raised him and his seven siblings “the right way,” with the concept of family. That particular concept has carried with him throughout his basketball career, which has now landed him at Bradley.
“I feel as soon as I got here, everyone embraced me,” Shaw said. “Everyone treated me like family and I feel like this is the place I need to be.”
Ford said he believes Shaw has the potential to be one of the top forwards in the Missouri Valley Conference and compares his toughness to outgoing senior Tyshon Pickett.
“Mike has what it takes to be one of the best in the conference,” Ford said. “Like Tyshon, Mike has the ability to beat guys down low and be a force in the paint.”
Ford also notes Shaw’s leadership this season as a great sign moving forward for the program.
“He knows exactly what to say and when to say it in the huddles or in practice,” Ford said. “Mike is showing some of our younger guys what it takes to be a leader on our team.”
While Shaw waits for Ford to call his number next season, his role this season was one he didn’t expect at the beginning of the year: a vocal leader.
“I accepted the role I needed to take on this team for the year,” Shaw said. “I didn’t expect to be as vocal as I was and as soon as I did, but I feel that it really helped the team.”
As the Braves try to wrap up the season with a strong finish, Shaw said will continue to cheer from the bench and wait for themoment when he puts on the Bradley Braves jersey for the first time. When he does put it on andstart his first full season withBraves, Shaw said he believes hecan display the hard work and potential he has shown since starting his collegiate career.
“I can’t wait because it’s been a long year,” Shaw said. “I’ve been working hard all year and learning as much as I can, so now I’m just waiting on my moment.”
While Shaw continues to work towards his debut next season, he maintains his focus this season on helping this year’s team in any way possible. But one things is certain: the former high school star is ready to win now.