2008 Intro: Iman Shumpert

Fasten your seats and get ready for the basketball season! We hope the 2006-07 year leads to a lot of new discoveries and fresh faces. One of those new "national" names might turn out to be a wing man from Illinois.

Iman Shumpert, a 6-foot-4 wing out of Oak Park (Ill.) Oak Park and River Forest, averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds a game as a sophomore. Mix in 5 assists and it was a pretty good year on all accounts for a youngster. However, it says little about what strides he's made since the end of last year.

"His sophomore year he was the starter and had grown to 6-foot," coach Al Allen said of his player. "He started as a point guard and a kid moved in and we moved him onto big guard. He would still distribute it and find open people.

"The problem was he continued to go to the boards and he was a mad man on the boards. I solved the conflict by making him the small forward and he became the leading rebounder. By then he was 6-1 but he still handled it. We run the ball out and if got boards he'd just run out like Scottie Pippen used to do."

That was three inches ago and now Shumpert is a bonafide 6-4 wing player. His game, according to his coach, has advanced. Shumpert's greatest advancement: his jump shot. "He could hardly take any 3s last year, let alone hit any of them," Allen quipped.

"He worked on his game in the off season, with AAU and with his dad. When he got to us by the time our summer schedule began he was 6-4 and he could shoot the ball. At the beginning of the summer he was phenomenal and had grown two more inches."

Enter the coaches. Many have already begun to notice him. Northwestern's Bill Carmody, Illinois' Bruce Weber, Wisconsin's Bo Ryan, Northern Illinois' Rob Judson, SIU's Chris Lowery and Bradley's Jim Les have personally eyeballed him. Most on the list of head coaches that made the trip to see him offered.

Assistants from Toledo, Illinois State, Western Kentucky, Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Northwestern, Albany, Nevada, Minnesota, Michigan and Creighton have seen him. Arizona State, according to his coach, is calling on him.

Shumpert is a B student in his third year of varsity basketball. His body and his game are in the process of taking off and from the sounds of it we could be talking about a player on the verge of a truly breakout season.

"His Achilles heel is that he's growing so fast he can't get his body together," Allen said. "He has trouble defending."

Soon enough he's going to have trouble fending off interested college coaches because this young man sounds like a prospect on the rise.


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