After his side completed the perfect start to the 16-17 BBL season, having recorded opening weekend victories against Sheffield and Worcester, we caught up with Leicester Riders forward Shane Walker.
We began by asking Shane how a keen young footballer found basketball: “Growing up in England, I played a lot of football but then at 15 I hit a growth spurt; it was only then, I went along to a basketball camp with a group of friends. The players and coaches at Chester Jets got me enthused and from there it was recommended I head to the States and explore a scholarship programme: I was extremely lucky. Once I went across to America, however, it was contestant work to improve my game.”
“I went to high school for 3 years and college for 5… a long time away from home. The first couple of years were tough but once I got into the rhythm of training and playing it became easier. Not a lot of people back home get that sort of opportunity to better themselves.”
Somewhat explaining the Leicester star’s relaxed demeanour, Shane explained jokingly: “I studied public relations and media, so I know all about the interview process and giving the politically correct answer. It’s something I’m interested in and even now I’d like to explore more.”
After graduating from Loyola University in 2012, the now Leicestershire based forward found himself beginning professional life with clubs in Greece, Holland, Cyprus, Morocco and France before heading home to play in the BBL. “It was a conscious decision to come home and be close to my friends and family: I had done enough travelling. I was actually considering stopping basketball before a call from Russell [Levenston] and Rob [Paternostro]. I’ve enjoyed my time here, we’ve won a few trophies and that’s why I’m back again this year. The city has a diverse culture and we’ve also got some of the best fan support in the league, our core following is amazingly loyal.”
A plethora of new faces have arrived in Leicester this offseason and despite a strong pre-season and an undefeated start to the new BBL campaign, Shane believes the team have yet to realise their true potential: “there’s only 6 core guys who have stayed from last year’s roster so there’s going to be a period of integration. We’re on the right path and everyone trusts the process, so it’s all good.”
“Rob [Paternostro] reminds me of my college coach, they are both fiery characters, expressive on the side-line and try to get the best out of their players. I’m used to it and I enjoy it. We are all trying to get better, every day, so when the big games arrive we’re ready to compete.”
Leicester continue their BBL Championship campaign on the 30th September with a trip to Surrey.