From Fairmont to YSU: Wells to join Penguins staff

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Former Fairmont State guard Shammgod Wells is slated to be a Youngstown State graduate assistant coach. Wells played for YSU coach Jarrod Calhoun this past season at Fairmont.

YOUNGSTOWN — Shammgod Wells apologized for not having a full Youngstown State outfit for a picture coinciding with this story.

Wells took a break from his workouts with the YSU men’s basketball current players.

His gray long-sleeved shirt with the word Basketball and YSU bookend to one side strewn through a black outlined basketball. Wells wore his crimson Fairmont State shorts with the trademark Falcons swish on one leg. He stood in front of the red block Penguins in the south end of the Beeghly Center.

The past and present is why Penguins coach Jerrod Calhoun brought Wells to YSU as a graduate assistant coach.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Wells, a Bronx, N.Y., native, set Fairmont State’s all-time assist and steals record as he had a 101-29 record in four seasons with the Falcons.

Calhoun said the NCAA Division II academic standout knows his up-tempo system better than his assistant coaches.

“He was a home run hire,” Calhoun said. “We had to recruit him to come here because he had some other options. I think he’s going to add a ton of value to this staff.”

Wells’ father is God Shammgod, who led Providence to the 1997 Elite 8 and performed an ankle-breaking crossover dribble that is still revered to this day. God Shammgod played for the Washington Wizards and works for the Dallas Mavericks as a player development assistant.

God Shammgod, as told by a 2010 Yahoo! Sports article by Jim Weber, taught Kobe Bryant his famous crossover move at the famed ABCD Camp.

Wells, 22, is well-versed on his father’s play, but never was pressured to follow in his footsteps.

“My dad worked out with me since I was a little kid,” Wells said. “The one thing I thank my dad for is he never forced me to be him. He always let me be my own person.

“He told me if I wanted to play basketball I will play. If I wanted to work out, then I would call him to work out. He never forced me to do anything. That was probably the biggest thing for me because it allowed me to be my own person and be my own player.”

That player drew Calhoun’s interest at Fairmont State.

Wells had his interest piqued when he saw firsthand what Calhoun was doing to revitalize Fairmont State. The Falcons won at least 20 games in each of Calhoun’s five seasons.

The winning aspect was only a small part of the Fairmont State puzzle and the reason Wells left New York City for Fairmont, W. Va., and spurned lower Division I offers.

“The one thing I loved about coach Calhoun was he never lied to me,” Wells said. “He never told me coming into the school that I would be the star point guard or I’d be playing 40 minutes a game. He told me if I came there, I would have to work for everything that I wanted. If I came there, I was coming into something that was bigger than myself. I was coming into something that was about everyone. That ultimately drew me in. I’m somebody that’s big on family. He would make it very comfortable on me to have a home away from home.”

Calhoun knows Wells can give his YSU players that same feeling. The Penguins head coach wants Wells to be a mentor to these YSU players.

“They’re going to get basketball knowledge,” Calhoun said. “They’re going to get real-life knowledge because he’s a young man that has direction. He knows where he wants to go, take the next step.

“They can bounce a lot of things off of him. He’s already spent a lot time with these kids. He listens to the same music as them. He has the same interests as them. I think a guy like that brings a lot to the staff. I want him to be a shoulder they can rely on through good times, bad times. Just a mentor, somebody these kids can look up to and go to for advice when they need it.”

Wells is finishing up with some elective on-line classes at Fairmont State and is graduating in May with degrees in criminal justice and political science. He’ll be a graduate student at YSU this fall.

Wells remembers the lessons he learned from Calhoun and assistant coach Paul Molinari, who was on staff at Fairmont State. Both are at YSU.

Wells conveys to these Penguin players what happened at Fairmont State, where the Falcons went to the Division II Championship game, can happen in Youngstown.

“I tell them everyday that he’s somebody if you trust him (Calhoun), that if you believe him, his system works,” Wells said. “Everything he has done, I think the proof is what he’s done at Fairmont. He has won everywhere he goes. The thing that he’s done is instrumental to the team. I tell them if they trust him, they’ll love him for the time that they’re here. He’s a guy, even after practice, he’ll invite you over to have a meal.

“He’s very family-oriented. He really loves his players. Coach Paul loves these guys too. If they open up to coach Calhoun and they allow him to be himself, then they’ll love him.”