When DeSales University men’s head basketball coach Scott Coval started thinking about what type of players he’d need to add to his squad next year, he knew that scoring, particularly from the wing, was going to be crucial for his team’s continued success. So when he saw video footage of Southampton High School’s Shaundell Fishburne, he was immediately interested in him.
In four years as a varsity starter for the Southampton Mariners, Fishburne, an All-County player and 1,000-point scorer, made a name for himself as a bona fide backcourt scorer, with both the ability to shoot the ball and drive the lane. This past winter, Fishburne’s clutch play helped lead the Mariners to the Suffolk County and Long Island Class B championships, the first titles for the team in more than a decade.
Fishburne will now take his scoring prowess to DeSales, a Division III program with a strong winning tradition, located in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, near Allentown.
Coval believes that Fishburne is not only a perfect fit for his squad but also could have an immediate impact as a freshman, due to the fact that the Bulldogs are graduating their top three wing scorers this year.
“We were looking for someone who could really score the ball and be a wing player, and he really fits the bill,” Coval said in a phone interview last week. “We saw the film and really liked it.”
Fishburne had been considering a number of other schools, some in Division I and some in Division II, including the University of New Haven and Emmanuel in Boston. But he was encouraged to send his game film to DeSales by his cousin, Antoni Wyche, who is an assistant coach at nearby Lehigh University. It was good advice, as DeSales indicated a strong interest in Fishburne and made it apparent by offering him the best financial aid package of all the schools he was considering.
Fishburne said it seemed meant to be after he visited the school. “I liked the campus, first of all, and I liked the coach,” he said. “He was interested in me, and it seemed like he was more like a father figure than a coach.”
Fishburne said he was initially hoping to go to a Division II school, because they have more freedom in terms of what they can offer players via scholarship, whereas Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarship money but rather put together financial packages based on academics and need-based grants and financial aid. But he quickly realized that DeSales would give him the best chance to further his hoops career.
“I think it will be a really good fit for him,” Coval said. “We’re really excited about him being a part of our program. I think he’ll have an impact right away. We need guys who can score, which I think is his biggest strength. He comes from a winning program, which I think is really important, and he was a four-year player with experience playing in big and important games.”
Fishburne will be making the transition from one winning program to another. In his 20 years at the helm of the program, Coval has guided the Bulldogs to a 362-183 record, making him the winningest coach in program history. DeSales has won more games than any other program at the Division III level in the mid-Atlantic region, and is 10th in the country in wins. The Bulldogs have enjoyed 20-win seasons in nine of the last 11 years, and have made the playoffs for 18 of his 20 years at the helm.