Shammgod had a short stint with the Washington Wizards during the 1997-98 season. He later went on to play professionally overseas. He decided to return to Providence and finish school while serving as a graduate assistant to the basketball team. Eighteen years after leaving college, he has earned his college degree.
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This week, Shammgod, 38, is back in New York for the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden and back with the team he once starred for. He is again a student at Providence, but now he is an undergraduate assistant for the men’s basketball team, which won last year’s tournament. Shammgod attends practices and games and has earned praise from Coach Ed Cooley and the Friars players for his ability to teach and motivate. Because of N.C.A.A. rules, he is not allowed to be paid for his work and he cannot recruit players. But he views the role as an apprenticeship that will prepare him for his goal of becoming a college or N.B.A. coach.
Shammgod’s father planned to attend Providence’s game Thursday afternoon against St. John’s in the quarterfinals. He will also be in Providence on May 17, when his son is expected to receive an undergraduate degree in leadership development, 20 years after Shammgod first enrolled at the college as a McDonald’s all-American from La Salle Academy in Manhattan. “It will be a dream come true,” Shammgod said. “I’m just happy that I’m going to accomplish it.”
These days, Shammgod is not a performer but a teacher, a role he has always enjoyed. He said he showed Kobe Bryant dribble moves when they were both at the prestigious ABCD summer camp in high school. When Shammgod played in China, he worked with guards on the national team there. In the past three years at Providence, he has had a role in the development of guards Bryce Cotton and Kris Dunn, who were both first-team all-Big East selections.