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Downingtown East's Connor Shanahan commits to Lycoming, drops 56

01/15/2023, 10:30pm EST
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

It was quite the week for Connor Shanahan

First, the Downingtown East product settled on a college. Then he had the game of his life.

Downingtown East celebrates Connor Shanahan's big game on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Downingtown East Athletics)

“It was an awesome feeling and a relief to get the [recruiting] process over with, and I feel like it helped relax me on the court and just play freely,” he said. “I’m still pretty shocked talking about it today.”

Just a few days after deciding that he would be attending Lycoming College this fall, Shanahan went bananas against Oxford on Saturday. 

The Cougars’ talented senior guard put up one of the best stat lines the area has seen in a long while, and did it in quite a fashion: Shanahan scored a career-high 56 points in East’s 80-51 win, but that only tells part of the story. 

At halftime, the score was 40-29. Shanahan had all 40. The Downingtown East scoreboard, which displays individual player points, said all anybody needed to know.

“It was just shell-shocking, honestly, just looking up and seeing the number,” Shanahan recalled on Sunday. “It was crazy, it was just like, I don’t know. It didn’t really feel real. When I looked up at the scoreboard, it was just like ‘wow.’

“After I made the first shot, I knew it was going to be a good day,” he added. “Because I usually never make my first shot in the game. It was a top of the key, catch-and-shoot 3, and it felt good. So from there I knew it was going to be a good day.”

It was 22-19 Oxford after one quarter before Downingtown East locked down defensively, taking control of the game. Shanahan, a 5-foot-10 left-hander, estimated that his teammates only took about six shots the entire first half, saying his teammates “weren’t really trying to find me, it was just the ball was getting to me.” He had a few buckets off steals and layups and hit seven 3-pointers, including five in the first quarter alone.

The Downingtown East scoreboard told the whole story at halftime.
(Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Even though it was a non-league game of little consequence, what he did in the East gymnasium over the weekend quickly spread around social media.

“When he got to 26, the refs and I were talking and joked when someone else would score,” Downingtown East coach Brian Grashof said in a text message. “The fact that he scored all 40 in the first half was something I’ve never seen in all my years of hoops. Just incredible.”

It wasn’t until a couple minutes into the third quarter, when junior forward Micah Hill scored on a put-back, that Shanahan’s streak was finally broken. He added a dozen more points in the third quarter, his teammates adding 14 more; a final 3-pointer and foul shot in the fourth quarter helped push the lead into running clock territory, and Shanahan’s day was over.

Afterwards, he didn’t have to worry about whether or not college coaches had seen his outburst — he already had those plans tucked away. Quietly, he’d committed earlier in the week to play for head coach Mark Linebaugh at Lycoming, located in Williamsport (Pa.). Since playing with Gibbs Elite in the summer, Shanahan has been hearing from a host of D-II and D-III programs, including Marymount (Va.), Albright and Alvernia, but he said he “always liked Lycoming the most,” and decided it was time.

Playing for Linebaugh, who has Division I experience as both a player (Colgate, 2000-04) and as a coach (Colgate, 2011-14; Rice, 2017-20), was a big draw.

“I really like the coach a lot,” he said. “He's a really nice guy and a really good coach. And I just like the area a lot up in Williamsport [...] and I know they're a good team, so it felt like the right spot.”

Shanahan (above) is a skilled scorer from all three levels, especially with the ball in his hands. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Shanahan also cited his friendship with current Lycoming guard and former Phoenixville standout Steven Hamilton as another reason he was drawn to the school, as was the fact that it’s not far from Eagle Mere, in Sullivan County, where he would go with his family in the summer when he was a kid.

In Shanahan, Lycoming’s getting a high-scoring guard who isn’t the most physical, but has an extra-slick handle and all sorts of tricks in the bag. And he’s certainly a hoop head — go to enough gyms around the area when Downingtown East isn’t playing, and Shanahan’s likely to show up to cheer on an AAU teammate, or a friend’s AAU teammate, or an AAU teammate’s friend…or anybody else.

“I’ve had the privilege [of] coaching him and watching him play the past two years,” Grashof said “He’s a great kid, always smiling and having fun. Along with that, [he] loves the game of basketball and has an extremely high (basketball) IQ.  

“His passing, shooting, and craftiness stick out most to me. He makes plays that other point guards simply can’t make.”

Though Downingtown East, at 6-10 overall and in 36th in the unofficial District 1 6A rankings, is unlikely to extend its season beyond its regular-season finale, there’s still something to play for. Shanahan enters the stretch drive of his high school career with 920 career points, six games to score 80 points and reach the 1,000-point mark, certainly in reach for a guard averaging 25 points per contest.

“I think I should hit that, which would be nice — a good accomplishment, hopefully,” Shanahan said. “We’ve got six more games left, so hopefully win all of 'em. At least [...] just enjoy the time with my friends while it lasts, last few games senior year, making good memories.”

CoBL’s Jerome Taylor contributed to this story

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