Shu-perman and his attention-grabbing dunks

Published 12:21 pm Thursday, February 15, 2024

A year ago Christian Shumate could walk around Lake Charles without turning a head despite his 6-foot 6 frame.

Few took notice of the McNeese State basketball player even as he started to show amazing athletic ability on the court.

When you are losing 23 games, not many people are interested.

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They are now.

With the Cowboys program completely flipped, Shumate has become the center of attention. His dunks, known as ShuSlams, have become must-see events.

They have also found their way onto the national stage. Four times Shumate had made ESPN’s “SportsCenter” top 10 daily highlights heading into Saturday’s game at Nicholls State in Thibodaux.

Monday night the sports network dove even further into the Shumate pool.

During the late “SportsCenter,” ESPN gave Shumate a full story, showing each one of his four dunks against Houston Christian that night. Each ShuSlam was increasingly thunderous.

And it came under the headline “Dunk King.”

“You can’t buy that type of publicity,” said McNeese Athletic Director Heath Schroyer.

ESPN even teased the Shumate highlight package at the top of the show.

He also earned the top honor on the top 10 and the No. 7 spot at the expense of the Huskies. That’s six times Shumate was highlighted and one time featured.

“It is just crazy,” Shumate said. “I go from nobody knowing me no matter where I went walking around to everybody seeming to know me wherever I go. I never would have thought it possible.

“I’m starting to become a household name sort of and I’m just really thankful for it.”

All from a guy who almost wasn’t at McNeese this season.

After last season’s debacle, Shumate entered the NCAA transfer portal looking for a new place to play. Anything had to be better than not getting credit for your efforts.

But new McNeese coach Will Wade re-recruited Shumate and won him over, bringing back the fan favorite.

“I got to know Coach Wade and what he wanted to do,” Shumate said. “I just thought in the end this was the best place for me.”

It has worked out for the Cowboys (22-3) and Shumate. Along the way he has become a fan favorite and the guy who fires up teammates with his energy and those ShuSlams.

“It really gets us going,” said guard Shahada Wells. “His dunks are amazing.”

Wells and D.J. Richards can be seen in some of Shumate’s highlights jumping with him as he gets set for one of his windmill dunks. Those are the ones getting all the attention for their power and flair.

Yet it is the ones Shumate gets from others that he likes best.

“I like the alley-oops,” he said. “I tell them just to put it up there and I’ll go get it.”

Most of those have come off passes from Wells.

“You just throw it anywhere near the rim and he can get it, even if it is a bad pass,” Wells said. “It is fun to see the way he attacks the rim.”

Shumate isn’t just a master dunker. He leads the Southland Conference in rebounding at 9.6 boards a game. He is also averaging 12.3 points as well and has 28 double-doubles for his career.

But it is the 41 dunks that get the fans going.

“He is incredible with some of those,” Wade said of Shumate’s dunks. “Our guys look to find him because he can do some crazy things.

“This is great for Christian and our program. He has worked really hard and deserves it.”

Things have gotten so wild for Shumate that you see shirts with his likeness and the word ShuSlam popping up all over town.

“That takes some getting used to seeing,” Shumate admitted.

He better get used to it, because from the looks of things, his popularity is only rising with every ShuSlam.