Feature Photo By Hillary Ehlen
When Vinnie Shahid was named team captain in late September, it came as a surprise to many. The junior guard, who transferred in the offseason from Western Nebraska Community College, was expected to be a key contributor for the Bison, but maybe not to the point where he would be named a captain. While it took many outsiders by surprise, it’s clear that Shahid had made a big impression in his first few months in Fargo.
“It means a lot to me,” said Shahid on being named a captain. “Being named a team captain in your first four months being here just shows how much you mean to the guys around you and the impact you have on the guys around you.”
It’s clear that Shahid has made that impact on a Bison team that welcomes six new faces (including Shahid), but also brings back eight familiar faces. Shahid believes that the balance of new and returning players has made for a closer-knit group. “Making that impact starts by building relationships with the guys, I mean 1-14, 14-1, this is probably the closest team I’ve ever been on. I think building that relationship helped me get comfortable, helped them get comfortable. I help them get comfortable because I see things in them more than they see in themselves. ”
When Dave Richman was recruiting Shahid, who is originally from Minneapolis and had a stand-out high school career at Hopkins High School, his skill jumped off the page first. Shahid averaged 18.4 points and 4.8 assists per game last season at Western Nebraska Community College, he also shot a scorching 48 percent from long range. Thanks to that performance, he was named NJCAA Second Team All-American and was NJCAA Region IX Player of the Year. That, plus previously familiarity with Shahid, sparked Richman’s interest.
What Richman was not expecting was to see Shahid take on a leadership role so quickly. “We knew some of those things were a part of his repertoire when we were recruiting him, he’s just got an infectious personality,” Richman said. “He has a level of energy that you just want to be around on and off the court. I think that’s big and it’s helped a guy like Tyson Ward where Tyson doesn’t necessarily have to be that vocal leader.”
Shahid agrees with his coach’s assessment on him being a vocal leader for the Bison. However, he sees multiple leadership styles within his own personality. “I think there are many ways to lead, you can be a vocal leader or lead by example,” he said. “I think my strengths would be a little bit of both, leading vocally for sure would be the first one. I also lead by example and just because I’m the team captain doesn’t mean that everyone else can’t lead in some kind of way. I would just say my strength would be vocal, being a vocal leader.”
As Shahid was going through the recruiting process with NDSU, he noticed something he did not find in other schools. It was with this detail that he knew NDSU was the place for him. “Just the culture at NDSU and the way they do things here. They’re a very family oriented program here and we’re really about doing the right type of things and being around the right type of guys,” he said. “I felt like when I took my visit, it felt like home, like I was back at high school again. That’s a feeling I probably could not get at any other school.”
Some of that family atmosphere was aided by several other Minneapolis-St. Paul area players joining the Bison. This season, NDSU will feature Shahid, freshmen Jarius Cook and Odell Wilson IV and transfer Jordan Horn. All of those players are originally from the Twin Cities area. While he is older than the other three guys, Shahid says familiarity helps the team gel together.
“I think it does a lot for our team chemistry, I think it does a lot for this program in the future. It does a lot for the fanbase in the area, it’s obviously good to have guys from other parts of the country like Tampa, Florida or Kansas like Cam and Tyson too,” he said. “I think that does a good thing for this program and the guys on this team in general. It gives us a little more of a bond.”
When asked about how the Bison will play this season compared to past seasons, Shahid really didn’t have an answer. Most fans will recognize NDSU basketball as a physical team, looking to dominate in the paint. However, with an influx of perimeter players, that looks like it’s about to change. “I know that right now we pride on if there’s a transition bucket and you’re comfortable taking it, be comfortable in your shoes and knock it down or capitalizing in transition,” Shahid said. “Also we just want to get the best shot we can every time down the floor whether that’s a transition bucket right away or if it’s late in the shot clock, we know that we are really good at getting shots off late in the shot clock and capitalizing on them.”
The thing every player is excited for, Shahid included, is the talent this team has to offer. “The amount of talent that’s on this team. Our depth chart is really deep like I said, we’re close, but we’re also very talented,” he said. “That is probably the thing that excites me the most, the talent and what we can do with all 14 guys together as a team.”
Vinnie Shahid is poised to become a big-time player in the Summit League in 2018-19. However, he has already made an impact on his teammates, coaches and others around the university. His personality and leadership style has driven him to a team captain position. Given what he’s done in such a small sample size, expect to hear Shahid’s name a lot this season.