Landry Shamet was back in Kansas on Thursday, hosting his first youth basketball camp at Wichita Hoops Academy with some familiar faces.
Former Wichita State Shockers Shaquille Morris, Zach Brown, J.R. Simon, Kaelen Malone and Brett Barney were all on hand to help Shamet with his camp. More than 100 kids were there to learn from the former Wichita State star after his rookie season in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers.
Through his breakout year in the NBA, Shamet made sure to stay grounded, and Simon and Barney have been in his inner circle since his days playing for the Shockers. The three are working together this NBA offseason.
Barney is helping out with the day-to-day minutiae of Shamet’s schedule, while Simon has left his position as graduate assistant on the WSU men’s basketball team to become Shamet’s full-time trainer this summer with hopes of landing some kind of job in the NBA for this upcoming season.
“I’ve known both of those guys from the jump before any of this NBA stuff was going on, so knowing they have my best interest at hand is awesome,” Shamet said. “You need people like that, for sure. One, you need people who will tell you the truth all the time and two, you know it’s coming from the right place. It’s really good to have them in my situation.”
Simon, who has coaching aspirations, said he will miss WSU, where he has been the past six years, but training one of his closest friends who just so happens to be one of the NBA’s top rising players was too good to pass up.
“I’ve always admired the way that Landry came in and handled his business, even in his first year,” Simon said. “He always worked very hard and kept his mind right. For me, it was an easy answer given the opportunity to work with him this summer. He’s always stayed in touch with me when things were going well and even when things were down. He’s a humble dude, so it’s been a pleasure having that relationship with him and working with him.”
Shamet, who was drafted No. 26 overall last June by the 76ers and then traded mid-season to the Clippers, 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. His signature moment came in the first round of the NBA playoffs, when he drilled a three-pointer with 16 seconds left in Game 2 to cap off the biggest comeback in NBA playoff history, as the Clippers erased a 31-point deficit to beat the Warriors, 135-131.
Barney, who lived with Shamet for two years when they were at WSU, echoed that sentiment that Shamet has remained the same through his success.
“He’s the most humble guy I know and he treats everyone the right way,” Barney said. “I think it’s always good to see guys like that have the success that he’s had already.”
Shamet said the biggest difference from the college game to NBA is how much bigger, stronger and faster NBA athletes are and the grind of 82-plus games compared to 35-plus games.
Another change for Shamet was taking time off away from basketball. After his first NBA season ended in April, Shamet was advised to take a break.
“It’s so weird because I’ve never taken more than two days off and then I took like two weeks off and didn’t even touch a basketball,” Shamet said. “I was about to lose my mind. But I know it’s important to do that because you can’t be in fantastic shape all year or else you’re going to run yourself into the ground. I’m still learning how to manage that throughout my career and getting better at it.”
That’s where Simon comes in.
After spending four years as a player under WSU coach Gregg Marshall and then the last two years as a graduate assistant on his staff, Simon has picked up certain drills and tidbits from Marshall but also developed his own training methods.
Simon was Shamet’s teammate for two years, then a graduate assistant for his final season with the Shockers. In that year with Simon on the staff, Shamet was always impressed by his work ethic and willingness to help players.
“He just has a really good knack for knowing how to talk to guys, coach guys and motivate guys,” Shamet said. “I like that I can be honest with him and tell him what I want to work on and then know that if there’s something he has me doing that I don’t like, I can tell him that and he can take that. I think it’s important to have that open line of communication where it’s not just the player or the instructor talking. We both are honest with each other and have that balance and it’s a good thing.”
Working out an NBA player, especially one as promising as Shamet, could be an intimidating first client.
But after talking with Clippers’ coaches on what they want Shamet to focus on and discussing details with Shamet, Simon said he’s confident in his work.
“I’m confident with what I do and things I know and in our relationship because I know how to work with him from our time at Wichita State,” Simon said. “Landry’s work ethic really stands out and I know the way he works and the what he likes and doesn’t like. I’m excited to keep working with him and I can’t wait to see what comes next for him because he has a bright, bright future.”