Catching Up With Jamal Shuler [INSIDER]
VCURamNation: Alright, maybe you can start off by telling us what year you arrived at VCU, the year you graduated from VCU, and what you are up to now?
Jamal Shuler: I arrived at VCU in the summer of 2004 and graduated the summer of 2008! I am currently playing my 8th professional season overseas in Monaco(Which is its own country but we play in the French Pro A league)
VRN: How’s your French? Is there much of a language barrier?
JS: My French could be a lot better after 5 years in France but I can comprehend a lot of French I just can not speak sentences but I plan on continuing to learn and get better at it! There isn’t that much of a language barrier for me and my family most people here speak English but even the ones that don’t speak English I can understand enough French to make things work! And also my 2 oldest daughters go to French school here in Monaco and they like it a lot!
VRN: For those people less familiar with Euroball, how is it different than the game we are used to in the states?
JS: European basketball is very very different! The way of thinking is the biggest difference to me. Most European coaches sometimes think as an American we lack the knowledge of the game and we just use our athleticism to get by! I think to play European basketball it takes a lot of patience, mental toughness and will power because the seasons are long and we are thousands of miles away from home!
VRN: What’s a typical workday look like for you?
JS: For me a typical day at the job is either morning weights or on court cardio depending on the schedule that day and at night on court team basketball practice!
VRN: Now it looks like AS Monaco is leading the league with a 12-4 overall record and you are leading the team with 14.2ppg while also chipping in 3.4reb and 2.7ast. Talk to us a bit about your roll on the team, and what the coaches are asking of you directly.
JS: I wanted to come in a be one of the leaders for this team both offensively and defensively! The coach was new to the pro a league and he knew me from playing in Ukraine and wanted me to be a big piece for the team! He allows me to be a leader and a presence for my team and he’s also helped me expand my game! A lot of coaches want you to be one dimension overseas if you’re a shooter just shoot, if you’re a good passer then create for others, my coach really allows me to play my game and play freely and we are off to a great start so far team wise and personally!
VRN: Is there a good way for Rams Fans to stay up-to-date with your games?
JS: Most of our televised games in France are broadcasted online on varies sites usually once I know it will be online I post on Twitter a game link!
VRN: Looking back, a lot of people credit that 2006-07 team as the arrival of VCU on the national stage, can you talk a little bit about what it was like to have to transition early that year with a new Head Coach (Anthony Grant) after losing Jeff Capel.
JS: I would say the transition was a “beautiful struggle” lol it was beautiful because coach grant came in a demanded us to be great and that was something coach capel never did!!! It was a struggle because he broke every single player down to zero to build us back up into the players we became from the suicides to the practices he pushed us to limits we didn’t know about and the results were amazing and I think coach grants blueprint paved the way for havoc to take over the World!!
VRN: What was so special about that team? How were you guys able to go 16-2 in conference play, 28-7 overall, win the CAA regular season *and* conference tournament, beat Duke, and then take a tough Pittsburgh team to OT in the 2nd Round of the NCAA tournament.
JS: What made that team special was the bond that we had as brothers! I think from a man we genuinely enjoyed playing with one another and we wanted everyone to be successful and it showed on the court! I think us taking on the role as underdogs pushed us to that level and that success that season! We pushed each other in practices we were competitive in everything we did and that made playing against other teams easy because we worked so hard and just had fun in the games!
VRN: What was the locker room *really* like after that (Duke) game? Does Anthony Grant do a lot of celebrating?
JS: The locker room was so energetic after that duke win! I think coach grant walked in with a little extra swagger but he played it cool because he was all about on to the next one! I think one story people never knew about that duke game was that leading up to it we had a little extra motivation all from coach K! It was after our open practice I was one of the last players to come to the bus because I went back to get extra ncaa pins for my parents and coach grant waited for me so as we walked to the bus Duke players and coaches were walking towards us to go to the court and there was coach K and for me being from North Carolina I was star struck because he is legend so coach grant extends his hand out to shake coach K’s just a little introduction hand shake on coach grants behalf to tell coach K hello and good luck for tomorrow’s game etc etc and coach K replied “hello coach, I know you and your team are just happy to be here!!” I think once I heard that in my eyes duke didn’t have a chance for that game lol coach grant told me can you believe what that guy said? Lol once I told my teammates I think it was over for the dukies haha! And history says I was right!!!
VRN: Aside from that Duke game, was there a game that sticks out in your head from your time at VCU, and what made that game special?
JS: The game against ODU at their place my sophomore year unfortunately we lost the game but I think I showed Ram Nation and the CAA that I could play and that I had a chance to be good with playing time! I think the deep 3’s and trying to bring us back on the road to beat our rival was sort of a coming out party for me! It definitely gave me confidence that I could become a good college player!
VRN: I know a lot of former players miss the CAA and the rivalry games we had in that conference, How did you feel about the move to the A10? Which do you think you’d prefer?
JS: I was all for the move to the A-10 because I thought it would give vcu a bigger platform on the national stage and it did! I wish we could have competed in the A-10 when I was there maybe we would’ve been ranked but I cherish the CAA days because it was a great competitive league as well and had a lot of great teams and players when I was there!
VRN: So far this year the Rams hold wins against both UR and ODU, which team would you rather beat on any given day? Which was the more heated rivalry during your tenure? Can you tell I’m trying to avoid saying, “Who did you hate more?”
JS: ODU by far!!!! An in conference rival, you can’t beat that! I guess it’s the same for the younger guys now that UR is in their conference now but for me ODU had all of my hatred at the time lol we wanted to beat them every single time not only for bragging rights but just to deflate their big heads and egos!
VRN: How exciting was it for you when that 2011 squad made it all the way to the Final Four—most those guys were freshman during your senior season if I’m not mistaken? Were you able to follow along with the action somehow?
JS: I was a proud big brother for their success! Like you said I felt a special connection with that team because I was a senior when those guys came in i.e. Rozzell. Joey and Ed those were my little brothers and still are I really really want those guys to bring the national championship home to Richmond and even with a 6 hr time difference I watched every game!
VRN: Who wins: 2006-07 VCU Rams or the 2010-2011 VCU Rams?
JS: the 06-07 squad for sure!!! We had 2 x-factors JPR (big Jesse Pellot-Rosa) and a young Jamal Shuler as 6th man!!!! Too much fire power hahaha
VRN: Have you been able to keep in touch with any of your VCU teammates?
JS: with social media now a days it’s easy to keep in touch with everyone but for the most part BA walker and I play in France so we talk every week we keep each other motivated and working hard so that’s always a good thing! And multiple VCU players workout together every summer when we are home so we are all still family!
VRN: Have you had a chance to meet Coach Wade? I imagine he was around when you would come back to work out over the summer during Shaka Smart’s tenure?
JS: I’ve met coach Wade a few times I’ve always liked how he carried himself! Even though I don’t know him personally I’m happy for his success and I wish him and the staff nothing but wins and championships in the future!
VRN: Speaking of working out, have you seen any pictures or heard about the new Basketball Development Facility? Should everyone have to suffer through Franklin Street Gym practices as a rite of passage?
JS: Following all the current players on snapchat and ig I’ve seen it and also pictures of it and I can’t wait to see it in person this summer! And yes I think it should be mandatory to do a two a day in Franklin street gym before you are allowed to enjoy the new facility lol
VRN: What do you think something like the new practice facility means for recruiting for the Rams?
JS: I think it should show all the top recruits world wide that vcu is a top notch place and they really care about the development of their players!
VRN: The Rams just sold out their 78th consecutive game at the Siegel Center, what do you remember about Ram Fans and playing inside the Stu?
JS: I just remember the electricity that the fans would bring into the Stu! That will forever be the best place I’ve ever played basketball at! And I also remember think that the shuuuu chant was boos at first lol
VRN: Will you be able to catch any games this year—either live or on TV?
JS: I’ve watch a few games that were broadcasted online this year so I always find time to support vcu no matter the time or place! It’s tough for me to catch a game live because I’m out of the country for 10 months str8 but hopefully i will be able to catch a game live sometime in the future!
VRN: What’s the best “French” thing you’ve eaten recently?
JS: Escargot(snail) which is very good by the way!!
VRN: What are you listening to lately? What’s in your headphones before a game?
JS: I’m a music guy like I literally do everything with music playing lol but right now I’m listening to Future, Rick Ross, Drake and Young Thug right now
VRN: You still rocking the Crush soda and Flame-On chips?
JS: Yeslawd!!! That’s my key to success lol
VRN: In honor of your #24 VCU jersey, my 24th and final question is… VCU has a legacy of three point shooters over the last decade, but who wins in a three point shoot-out: B.A. Walker, Jamal Shuler, Brandon Rozzell, Troy Daniels, Bradford Burgess, or Melvin Johnson? Or, should I say, who are you beating in the final round?
JS: Wow that’s a great question man before anything I think out of this group I’m the best scorer lol maybe the most underrated scorer in VCU history but in just 3pt shooting I’m taking Buzz beating Melvin in the finals because I think these 2 guys are just ridiculous 3pt shooters!
P.S. I just want to thank ramnation for this interview and I want to say hello to all the fans out there continue to uplift our players and encouraging them to be great! I also want to send a special shout out to my wife Kim Shuler for a healthy delivery of our 3rd daughter Mina Jolié thank you for blessing me with 3 beautiful princesses!