FAIRBANKS, Alaska. (KTVF) There is something special brewing up at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus with the men’s basketball team. They have a player in Shadeed Shabazz who is putting up unreal numbers and inspiring the Nanooks in the 2019-2020 season.
Shadeed Shabazz celebrates with his team. (Aaron Walling/KTVF)
Shabazz is leading the nation on the Division II level in steals, averaging 3.78 a night. He leads the Nooks in points, steals, free throw percentage and minutes per game. The leadership aspect of his game has shown up in big moments for the Blue and Gold.
“Honestly, it's something that I didn't know was coming,” said Shabazz. “It's been a real learning experience for me. Stepping into that leadership role, because I never really looked at myself as much of leading a whole team.”
The young player from Seattle, Washington has bounced around in his career, starting with Cochise College in Arizona to Iowa Western in Council Bluffs, Iowa. For his junior year, he landed with the Nooks and now he is making waves in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
“It makes me think my hard work is actually starting to pay off,” said Shabazz. “All my hard work, dedication, staying at it, could've quit long time ago, but I stayed focused and kept pushing forward."
The player they call Deeder has been part of winning programs all of his life. From championship games in college, to winning state titles in high school. He is wanting to help Alaska as a program make a run at the GNAC tournament, which would be their first time in the tourney since the 2015-2016 season.
“I just want ultimate success for my team. I feel like our team going to the GNAC championship, winning it all. That would just mean everything to me and my teammates. I feel like it would just be the perfect cherry on top to a hard season."
When Shabazz talked about himself almost giving up, the guard gave two reasons to keep on pushing through all of the hardships.
“There's two things. It was my grandma passing away, and I really just sat there and thought, 'You never know who you're motivating.'," said Shabazz. "There's a lot of people that look up to me that don't even say anything, they're watching from a distance, they just keep their mouth shut just to see if I keep going. And I just realized I was never raised as a quitter. I got to keep going. Another was Kobe Bryant just passing, that just boosted my belief in the game and just realizing I never can quit. Looking up to him my whole life, and just knowing what the game meant to him, it just made me fall back in love with the game.”
Shadeed and the Nanooks now prepare for the back half of the conference schedule before the GNAC tournament slated for March 5-7 in Seattle Washington.