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Unionville's Shanahan has grown into new role

01/05/2020, 11:00pm EST
By Ari Glazier & Josh Verlin

Logan Shanahan (above) has grown from a 6-1 guard into a versatile 6-6 forward for Unionville. (Photo: Gavin Bethell/CoBL)

Ari Glazier (@AriGlazier) &
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

Logan Shanahan started his high school career at Unionville as a 6-foot-1 guard. But things change. By the time he got to his junior year, he stood 6-3; a growth spurt over the summer bumped him up to 6-6. 

That forced Shanahan to reconsider his position and playing style. The Emory commit is now a forward who spends as much time grinding under the basket as he does on the perimeter, and he’s become a standout player in the Ches-Mont, with a bright future ahead of him.

“I’m definitely trying to become more of a big man, because I thought I was more of a guard the past couple of years,” he said. “Then I kind of developed more of an inside game, which I’m really proud of.”

“We’re not necessarily gonna take all the credit for him getting better,” Unionville coach Chris Cowles said, “but he’s committed to it, and you see what happens when you actually commit and you actually get tangibly better, which is what he did. 

“I think the most impressive thing about him though, his toughness has increased immensely,” Cowles added. “He can literally win a game for us by rebounding the ball.”

More than Shanahan’s body has grown over the last year. He has become the focal point of Unionville’s offense after the graduation of players like Wyatt Hockenberry, Bo Furey-Bastian, and Sean Rafferty –– who now compete for D-III teams at Elizabethtown, Widener, and Arcadia, respectively –– in the spring. 

That group was a big reason Unionville went 15-7 last year, earning the No. 4 seed in the District 1 5A bracket. But fellow Ches-Mont squad Sun Valley spoiled the fun, winning a quarterfinal matchup, and Unionville was unable to grab one of the two available state tournament spots in playbacks. 

“It’s been a much bigger role that I’ve had to take up, especially the rebounding portion, because we lost a lot of bigs last year,” Shanahan said. “Losing bigs, (Cowles) also made sure that I developed an inside game during open gyms...I just demand the ball inside and I work on hook shots and drop steps, and stuff like that.”

Other than the college attention it helped earn him, Shanahan’s growth spurt also came with the bonus of being able to be more competitive in pickup games with his family, some of whom are around 6-9.

Shanahan grew up with a large, basketball dominated family. He estimates that of his 30-odd cousins, “60 percent” of them play or played basketball in some capacity. That includes Ryan Luther, who played at Pitt and Arizona and is now competing professionally in Latvia, and his brother Collin Luther, who played for Elon. 

Although Cowles indicated that this was more of a development year for Unionville, they’re still off to a solid start. After a 17-10 record last year, they stand at 6-4 (1-1 Ches-Mont American) including a win against Friends’ Central at the Pete & Jameer Play-by-Play Classic Invitational on Dec. 27. 

Spectators at Jefferson University that day saw Shanahan put up a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. He put his guard skills to good use, as he was capable with the ball in his hands on the perimeter, often helping to initiate Unionville’s offense. He looked comfortable shooting, and boasts a nice stroke, although he went 0-for-3. He also showed flashes of solid rim protecting, and secured a couple of steals.

Knowing that Shanahan was going to have to take on a feature role in the offense meant pushing him to be more assertive, calling for the ball in the post and asking to run certain plays.

“He’s probably, for a kid that’s playing college basketball, the most low-maintenance kid you could ever imagine,” Cowles said. “I’ve never had to do anything to appease him, he’s never come to the sidelines and said ‘hey I need a shot.’”

Shanahan’s non-selfish demeanor is a perfect fit on a Unionville team that relies heavily on its ball movement to get around more physically imposing opponents

“Our advantage is our connectedness...and so when we’re not connected, we look awful,” Cowles said. “We’ve got to be on the same page [in] basically every aspect of the game, the language, the trust, and the rotations offensively and defensively need to all be in sync. So if someone’s getting trapped they know exactly where their outlets are and what their reads are.”

Once this season is in the record books, Shanahan will move on to Emory, a private university of more than 8,000 undergraduates located in Atlanta. The Eagles are in the midst of their most successful stretch in program history under coach Jason Zimmerman, the school’s all-time winningest coach at 214-103 over 12 seasons. 

Under Zimmerman’s guidance, Emory has collected four conference championships and four NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. They’re currently No. 2 in the country in the national rankings.

This was a crucial selling point for Shanahan.

“It was pretty big because [Zimmerman] was showing me all their banners and how good they were the past couple of years since he’s been the coach there,” Shanahan said. “Plus, I’ll have a lot of guys teaching me my freshman year because there are (nine seniors-to-be) who have all been successful in the league.”

Emory was one of the first schools to contact Shanahan over the summer. He was immediately interested because of its location; Shanahan pointed to the weather and distance from home as the factors leading him to want to go south even before he got in touch with Emory. 

He was not initially familiar with the Emory’s basketball program, but a round of research after the initially communication led Shanahan to view it as “the perfect fit.”

“They liked how versatile I was, and how I could be a big guard or a power forward, center, whatever they wanted, and they liked how I could shoot the ball because they love to shoot threes,” Shanahan said. “They showed me exactly what I’d be doing there, and it’s just shooting trail threes and pretty much what I’ve been doing here –– and I love it here.”

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