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Marian taps Shane Lawal to take over girls basketball program – The Oakland Press

After a stint at Detroit Renaissance that included leading the Phoenix to a Division 1 finals appearance in 2021, Shane Lawal was hired this week to lead the girls hoops program at Bloomfield Hills Marian. (MATTHEW B. MOWERY – MediaNews Group, file)

This is where Shane Lawal wants to be.

With a passport book showing multiple stamps from his active time and a recent stint with the Sacramento Kings, Lawal is back in the prep game after Bloomfield Hills Marian announced him this week as the new head coach of the girls basketball team.

All the internal questions Lawal had about whether this was the right fit were answered in his interview. “Their vision is my vision,” he said. “We’re aligned on everything. You could see it in the conversations with them, in their leadership… It’s true. Everything in life has to fit together. This is definitely a good fit.”

Lawal was certainly suitable for his first start at that level. He took over the Detroit Renaissance girls program in 2019-2020 and led a team led by Miss PSL Kailee Davis to a 22-2 record. The team’s only losses came against Chicago Simeon (led by current LSU standout Aneesah Morrow) and a two-point loss at Edison.

That record might have yielded more wins, but a streak that Lawal thought would have ended with a state title was halted by COVID just before the Phoenix Marian were set to play Southfield A&T in the regional final.

Lawal and Renaissance matched up for the playoffs the next year, reaching the state finals in his sophomore season.

After graduating eight seniors, he had a young team and several transfers sitting on the sidelines, but Renaissance defeated Mumford in the PSL Championship before heading to Berkley in districts, ending a year in which he says the team’s execution and his coaching could have been better.

There was a feeling that Phoenix would once again be one of the state’s top teams the following season, but that opportunity presented itself.

“It was hilarious,” recalled Lawal, a Southfield Lathrup graduate who played at Oakland University and then Wayne State before making a number of overseas stops, including Spain and Italy. “(Current Pistons forward Chimezie Metu) was on the Nigerian national team with coach (Mike Brown) and he went up to Brown and said, ‘You don’t have any Nigerian guys on staff. You have Nigerian vets coaching.” He dropped my name, and Mike did his own research and called me.

During an AAU trip at the time — he has been 17U head coach and high school principal for Michigan Storm Elite since 2019 — Lawal willingly gave up a week to help Nigeria, which he once represented (and help the country capture its first continental AfroBasket Championship in 2015.).

But Lawal knew that Brown’s follow-up asking him for a resume had nothing to do with a national team opportunity. Instead, it was for a player development coaching position under Brown, who was named the Kings’ head coach in May 2022.

However, the decision to leave Renaissance was difficult.

“It was hard because Christian (Sanders) was the first kid who believed in me, her and Makayla Johnson,” Lawal said of his former players, who graduated this season. “They took a chance on me as coach, and others followed. I knew what they would become. They had a few chances to win some state titles, and that’s not something you take for granted or something that’s easy to achieve consistently. Defensively we built something special and I wanted to see how dominant we could be. But I told those young ladies that at some point I have to put my own children first – opportunities for my children – at least test it out, see if it’s for me. And it was definitely worth it.”

Basketball coach
Shane Lawal, who enjoyed multiple seasons of success at the Detroit Renaissance as head coach of the girls basketball team, played at Southfield Lathrup before pursuing a career in college and overseas. He most recently served as a player development coach under Mike Brown with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. (MATTHEW B. MOWERY — MediaNews Group, file)

He says that he learned a lot in one year, made contacts and made good friends. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. At the same time, it seemingly gave him a better idea of ​​where and what his true calling was.

“Even in the NBA, it was hard because I get really close to the kids that I coach, and I believe in finishing things, but everybody looked at me like I was crazy if I didn’t take that (Kings job),” Lawal said. “It was a great situation, but I wanted to be a full-fledged, present father. That was the main reason why it didn’t work out or I didn’t want to go back… And when I came back, I guess (I realized) my mission is to help young ladies get better. Grown men don’t need my help. This is where I need to be.”

Lawal has had time to refine his philosophy about coaching girls. He had several younger sisters who went on to play Division 1 basketball, whom he helped teach the game, and now he has three daughters (the oldest is nine).

“For me, coaching young women teaches me how to be a better father,” Lawal says. “I see what works and what doesn’t, and I turn around and implement that. Right now, I’m coaching seventh and ninth graders, and I say, ‘My daughter is going to be here in three or four years.’ Everything these kids are showing me, I’m going to have to deal with in a few moons (laughs). If I see a habit (or bad habit) coming up in my daughter, I’m going to nip it in the ass.

“But I prefer coaching girls. I think they’re easier to coach. Much easier to coach.”

Lawal is excited to hit the gym with his girls at Marian in late July, but being there at his new job, where there’s no competition for time with a boys’ team — he calls gym time “liquid gold” — is ideal, not only from a success standpoint for the Mustangs, but also in a way that allows him to spend more time with his daughters. “To have them around, to have them grow around the sport … I’ve found myself investing more in other people’s kids from an athletic standpoint the last couple of years,” he said, adding that the school has also supported him in continuing with its AAU program. “(At Marian) I get to spend more time in the gym with my family, and also do my job.”