Thu Jul 29 09:00am EDT
LostLettermen.com, the college sports site dedicated to former players, will regularly contribute "Where are they now?" stories to The Dagger. Here's a look at the current whereabouts of former Providence star God Shammgod:
Since a miraculous run to the 1997 Elite Eight, Providence's God Shammgod has been seen about as often as God himself.
That's because, aside from a 20-game stint with the Washington Wizards the following season, Shammgod has been all over the world except the NBA.
That includes domestic stints in the semi-pro CBA, USBL and International Basketball League, as well as stops overseas that include Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Poland, Saudi Arabia and most recently, China.
Shammgod has developed a cult following among basketball fans who fondly recall his unforgettable name and divine 1997 tournament, wondering how he never made it in the NBA. Lost in history is the fact Shammgod averaged under 11 points per game for the Friars that season and had scouts questioning his size and jumper as soon as he left school.
Just where is the 34-year-old now? Splitting time between Harlem and his home in Monroe, N.Y., while preparing for the upcoming season in China with Shanxi Zhongyu, better known as the team Stephon Marbury played for last season. After a bad experience there a couple years ago, Shammgod is excited to go back after the influx of American talent since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He points out that the Chinese Basketball Association is now loaded with former NBA players.
Shammgod's basketball career has certainly been a wild and unpredictable ride. Raised in Harlem, Shammgod went by Shammgod Wells growing up and starred at Manhattan's La Salle Academy alongside fellow prep phenom Ron Artest. He also just so happened to teach Kobe Bryant his crossover move at the famed ABCD Camp.
Selected as the co-city Player of the Year with Marbury and a McDonald's All-American as a senior in 1995, Shammgod headed to Providence to play for Pete Gillen.
But once he got there, he encountered a problem: Shammgod was required to go by his legal name of God Shammgod unless he legally changed it to Shammgod Wells. That required $600 he didn't have, so Shammgod stuck with his birth name and a legend was born.
As a sophomore, Shammgod emerged as a fan favorite in the NCAA tournament when the 10th-seeded Friars dispatched second-seeded Duke in the second round and 13th-seeded UT Chatanooga in the Sweet 16 before facing Arizona in the Elite Eight.
Down 10 points with just under four minutes left and Austin Croshere out of the game after fouling out, the Friars turned to Shammgod to almost single-handedly will them to victory. Displaying his quick hands on defense and ridiculous ball-handling skills on the other end, Shammgod finished with 23 points and even had a 15-footer in the final seconds of regulation to win the game. But he missed, and the Wildcats prevailed in overtime and went on to win the national title.
Shammgod decided to strike while the iron was hot and leave school after his sophomore year. But after being picked in the second round of the '97 draft, he only lasted 20 games in the league. Refusing to play in Europe because of long seasons that took him away from his family too long, Shammgod has spent the last decade globetrotting without so much as an invitation to an NBA camp since 2002.
After spending last season rehabbing a knee injury, Shammgod is ready to return to China, where he last played in 2008. Although he has called it the worst experience of his life, Shammgod said the country has completely changed for the better since the Olympics.
"Once the Olympics came over, everything became different," Shammgod said. "As far as eating, they've got better restaurants," noting that there are many more American restaurant chains. He added: "Because of the Olympics, they had to make better hotels [and] better gyms."
In the meantime, Shammgod made an appearance this spring at Converse's Band of Ballers streetball tournament in Atlanta, where he helped fellow Harlemite and rapper Jim Jones defend their title for "The Jones Family."
He's currently spending time with his family that includes a 16-year-old son also named God Shammgod, who attends St. Raymond High School in the Bronx, whose alumni include N.C. State's Julius Hodge and Villanova's Allan Ray.
As for when he plans to retire, Shammgod said, "It could be next year, it could be the year after, I don't know. Whenever I feel the time is right, I'm going to do it."
It might not seem very concrete but who are we to question God's plan?
Jim Weber is the founder of LostLettermen.com, a historical college football and men's basketball site that links the sports' past to the present.