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Not A Tall Tale: A Sitdown with Shagari Alleyne

Salsa, UK, Globetrotting, and more!

Shagari "Rolling" the Crimson Tide
Shagari "Rolling" the Crimson Tide
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As a long-time UK fan, it is always a treat to sit down and chat with a former Wildcat.

Today, just days after his birthday, I was able to have a nice chat with, former UK big, Shagari Alleyne. Always a cool guy, we chatted a bit about his prep days, UK, his stint with the Globetrotters, and what he is up to now. Check it out below!

Growing up, it is likely safe to assume you had a bit of a height advantage. Is this what pushed you towards basketball?

Shagari: Actually I grew up a huge Knicks fan when NYC was on FIRE!!! I'm talking about Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, etc... For me, they made playing basketball cool. However, before that, my older brother introduced me to the game.

You said your brother introduced you to the game. Did he just take you to play or was he a baller, himself?

Shagari: To answer your question, he started playing first, and I followed suit.

From there, you ended up at Rice High School. Tell the readers (and me) a little about your time there. Successes, failures, or lessons learned.

Shagari: The transition wasn't quite that yes, eventually I ended up at Rice High School. It was my first time being a part of a top tier program. Everything from practice to the manner in which we conducted ourselves was different from any other program that I had been a part of previously.

Did you begin playing for Rice as a freshman? What season did you realize you were the type of player, who could play at a prestigious Basketball program (such as UK)?

Shagari: Yes. I was on varsity as a freshman. But I came into my own during my sophomore year. I always knew that I could play at the Division 1 level. I even had a list of schools that I envisioned playing for (Temple, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky *in that order*). As fate would have it, I chose UK.

What led you to UK? Was it Coach Smith's recruiting pitch, friendships with other recruits, or other factors?

Shagari: I wanted to win a National Championship. UK gave me the best opportunity to attain that goal.

UK had really good teams your first two seasons. Your sophomore year, UK reached the Elite 8, and you had your best season. What was it like to play at Rupp Arena? What was it like to be a large part of a title contender?

Shagari: Playing at Rupp was incredible. The fans always brought the energy, and they supported the program good, bad or indifferent. Playing for UK was an experience that I would NOT trade for anything in the world. Everything first class. Being a part of the program gave me an experience of competing at the highest level.  When you're exposed to that, it forces you to hold yourself to a higher standard of excellence. If I had to do it again, I would.

It's great to hear a former player speak so glowingly about their experience. However, you transferred prior to your senior season. What was led to the mov?

Shagari: Let's just say it was the best decision for me at the time. It's an old situation and I would rather not go into detail.  Nevertheless, my stance on the fans and the program remains. I got nothing but love for the BBN!

After your college playing days, you did some different things. You played in the Premier League, joined the Harlem Globetrotters, and did some salsa dancing. Talk about those.

Shagari: The PBL and the Harlem Globetrotters were both stops along my journey that allowed me to travel and continue playing the game. The Globetrotters, in particular, allowed me to go places and meet people that I probably would not have met otherwise. Salsa, for me, started off as a favor. Gradually it became contagious. Now I'm at the point where I cannot envision my life without salsa. The funny thing is, in life some people don't find ONE thing that they're passionate about. I was fortunate to have found three.

You say you've found three passions. I believe that basketball was the first, Salsa the second. I believe the third has to do with present day ventures. Won't you enlighten everyone on that third passion, which is also what keeps you busy these days?

Shagari: Writing and recording music.I don't have any music out at the moment, but I will be releasing songs in the near future. I will be sending out notifications on all social media platforms...Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

You are also doing some big things in the world of education and fundraising. How about you tell us a bit about that.

Shagari: Facebook- Shagari Alleyne, Instagram- SevenFooter4Life, Twitter- ShagBoogieBrown. Collaborating with the DOE affords me the opportunity to give back. It allows me to share experiences and important lessons that I learned in life. The only message that I have is to pursue your passion and spend your life getting paid to do something that you would do for free. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

I do have just one more question. Does this UK team win it all?

Shagari: I really hope so. They say speed kills and that team has a lot of it. Those young fellas are very talented, and Cal is one hell of a coach.

Thanks again!