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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Philly Fantastic: In hometown, Shakur guides teammates around town, then guides them past Wisconsin”

    PHILADELPHIA – The City of Brotherly Love has not forgotten Mustafa Shakur. While the junior point guard was at the mall near the team hotel, Philadelphians pestered junior center Kirk Walters on whether he was playing with Shakur.

    In the days leading up to the game – days Shakur called “”hectic”” because of the incredible demand for tickets – Shakur spent precious time with family, friends and scores of other locals.

    “”I have a lot of supporters, people I don’t even know,”” he said. “”They saw us in the mall and I’m seeing people I went to high school with and people I grew up with, so it’s just a great feeling.””

    When the lights turned on, Shakur wooed the hometown crowd with one of the best games of his career: 17 points, nine assists and five rebounds.

    Beyond the stats, Shakur used several showboat moves during the game that had some of the crowd oohing and aahing.

    “”I think we should probably schedule a couple more games in Philly just to get him playing like he did today,”” Walters said.

    In front of fans wearing 10th street t-shirts, Shakur was determined to show Philadelphia what he’s been up to across the country.

    “”Coming back home has just been great,”” Shakur said. “”Coming from the 10th and Olney, a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to do things I’ve already done. It’s a big thing for me and my community to have my team back to see what Philly is all about.””

    With 3:25 left to play in the first half, Shakur made a play reminiscent of his days spent honing his skills at Cherashore playground, spinning between two defenders to score an easy lay-up.

    “”The way he distributed the ball, decision making, and driving,”” Walters said. “”He really got by people, made some good moves and got some uncontested lay-ups.””

    Shakur’s five rebounds, all defensive, allowed him to push the ball and get into transition where he is at his best.

    “”Me getting rebounds and being able to push it up, I think that kind of caught them off guard,”” Shakur said.

    His nine assists came against just two turnovers in a team-high 37 minutes played.

    “”He backed it out when the advantage wasn’t there. He attacked the rim when he saw the opportunity to attack it,”” Arizona head coach Lute Olson said.

    “”He made the right decisions at the right time,”” junior forward Ivan Radenovic said.

    Shakur has not been the “”Golden Child”” as he was once called. Playing at Point Guard U, his struggles this year have been noted, such as failure to score any points against NAU and a five turnover, two-assist performance against UCLA. However, in what was the biggest pressure situation of the season, Shakur lived up to the hype.

    “”We know what he’s capable of doing,”” senior guard Hassan Adams said. “”I just told him to relax and just have fun. Sometimes he puts pressure on himself because he’s the point and that comes with a lot, but right now just let it all out, especially in your hometown.

    “”It gives you an extra boost with your family there,”” Adams added.

    Shakur, who has been content to just run the team at times, also knocked down his perimeter shot, making three of his five 3-pointers. Overall, he shot six for 13 from the field, which drew Wisconsin defenders, allowing him to drive and drop off passes to his big men.

    His patience was obvious from the start. On the first play of the game, with the shot clock running down, Shakur waited until the last second to drop off a no-look pass for an easy Walters dunk.

    “”For the Philly fans, a lot of them don’t get to see me play, so when I had those great games like I had against Stanford they don’t get to see it, so they don’t really know what I can do as of late,”” Shakur said.

    It was indeed, home, sweet home for Shakur. Hanging out with his family and resorting back to his high school lifestyle, Shakur showed Philadelphia fans what they’ve been missing for three years.

    “”I’ve been able to see my family, go to the mall right around the corner from our hotel and just do the normal things I would do in high school,”” Shakur said.

    He was also his teammates’ guide to the city.

    “”He’s been great showing us around Philly,”” said Adams who is a first-time visitor.

    After showing them the tour, Shakur guided the Wildcats to a first round blowout Philly will not soon forget.

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