Landry Shamet talks about historic playoff moment
There is an unmistakable edge in Landry Shamet when he returns home to Kansas City and especially to his alma mater, Park Hill High School.
Park Hill is where Shamet pushed himself in those defining years that prepared him for stardom at Wichita State, then a standout rookie season in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers.
So returning to those roots this week — to host a two-day youth basketball camp for nearly 150 boys and girls — has been special, Shamet admits.
“This is where I was always overlooked and I did everything I could to get better,” Shamet said. “I never worried about all of that other stuff because I couldn’t control it. I still can’t. But that’s where my chip was developed, here in high school when the recruiting was going on. I was never involved in that high-level stuff.”
Now Shamet finds himself on one of the most high-profile teams in the NBA.
The Clippers were the lovable underdogs last season, pushing the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors to six games in the first round of the NBA playoffs as a No. 8 seed. Shamet cemented himself in NBA history by drilling a go-ahead three-pointer with 16 seconds of Game 2 to cap a 31-point comeback in a 135-131 victory, the largest comeback in playoff history.
After the dust settled following the free agency period, the Clippers added two of the NBA’s biggest stars — Kawhi Leonard and Paul George — on top of bringing back the majority of last year’s team. They are considered by many to be the favorites to win the NBA championship this coming season with Shamet still figuring to play a large role.
“The winning culture in LA was already set in place, now we’re just adding a couple of really good players,” Shamet said. “I think it’s going to be great. I’m not taking it lightly. I was starting on what is now the favorite to win a title this year, so it’s added pressure or what not. I take that seriously. I’m not thinking, ‘This is going to be easy now.’ I’m excited to get it started and get it going.”
Before the NBA season arrives in October, Shamet will have an opportunity to prove himself with Team USA. The 22-year-old was chosen as one of 10 members of the “Select Team” to scrimmage against Team USA basketball for its FIBA World Cup training camp next month in Las Vegas.
But with nine of the original Team USA players pulling out of the event, Shamet feels confident he can now contend for the final 12-man roster to head to China and represent the United States at the end of August.
“I can’t wait to be able to learn from the coaches there, especially Pop (San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich),” Shamet said. “Playing at that level with that caliber of guys is going to be awesome. But I’m not going in there thinking that I’m on the select team. I’m going in with the mindset that I want to make the team and be a contributor. I’m not there just to get some practice in. I want to make the team.”
It’s an impressive start to his career for Shamet, who was drafted No. 26 overall in last summer’s NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, then traded to the Clippers midseason. He averaged 9.1 points and made 42% of his three-pointers, leading all NBA rookies with the fourth-most three-pointers made by a rookie in NBA history.
That meteoric rise has also made Shamet a success off the floor, evident by the huge turnout in Kansas City for his youth basketball camp on Monday and Tuesday.
“It feels really good knowing that I have this kind of base back home with people following me and supporting me,” Shamet said. “It’s definitely humbling and really cool to be a part of it back here.”
Melanie Shamet, who raised Landry as a single mother, played a role in her son’s camp this week, helping out with various tasks around the courts.
She attended Park Hill herself, so watching her son come back to host a camp there has been special for her this week.
“It’s crazy knowing that I came from here and he did too and now all of these kids are looking up to him now,” she said. “I can still remember when he was this age attending camps. Who would have thought back then that he would be in a position where he was actually hosting his own camp now?”
Like all things when it comes to his career, Shamet takes the responsibility seriously. He wants to be a role model for kids in Kansas City because he knows from first-hand experience how important they can be when growing up.
It’s been surreal to him to have Park Hill basketball standouts like Justin Leathers and Chris Nsenski helping him out at his own camp after looking up to them as a younger player. He also made sure his former coach, David Garrison, was there to be a part of the camp.
“All of those guys gave me such a big boost of confidence and they were just really good for me,” Shamet said. “We hope we can be that to these kids today. If you can do it for just a few, then you’ve done your job. Not everyone here is going to play in the NBA and maybe some don’t even want to. It’s a matter of inspiring them to where they realize whatever they want to do and then dedicate themselves to go out and do it until they get there.”
That’s the mentality that has worked for Shamet and the one he hopes to use to join former Wichita State teammate Fred VanVleet someday: as an NBA champion.
“Obviously the start of my career hasn’t gone exactly as planned because there were some things I couldn’t prepare for,” Shamet said. “But it’s been such a great experience. I’m only a year in, so I’m sure there’s plenty more down the line for me and I’m excited about it. I’m never comfortable and I just want to keep growing.”