Shannon, CitiTeam Blazers bringing Drew League flavor to TBT 2018


By: Danny Holdsman | @DHoldsman

"You’re either going to love to play for me or hate that I beat you all the time." - Rodrick Shannon

If you live in Los Angeles, the Drew League and summer go together like peanut butter and jelly. Started by Alvin Willis in 1973, this legendary league has returned to the same courts in LA for 45 straight years.

In 2018, the Drew League will bring its premiere talent back to TBT. After LAUNFD had strong showings in both 2015 and 2016 and several other teams have contained Drew League talent over the years, the CitiTeam Blazers will be the next squad to carry the torch in #TBT2018

Few coaches in America have more experience at the pro-am level than Rodrick Shannon -- the man tasked with leading CitiTeam.  Shannon has coached in pro-am events for 16 years, twice winning the Vegas Pro Am and a three-time victor of the Drew League.

“My love for coaching at this level comes from that passion for winning and putting together the right group of guys,” said Shannon. “I love that feeling of winning, and it is something that I can’t be denied.”

Shannon never played organized basketball himself.  He acquired a love for the game and the art of coaching through long hours in various gyms and in front of the television watching games at all levels.

“I would always watch the games and make coaching decisions from my couch about what should happen,” explained Shannon. “When they did happen, I told myself I can do this. I got to coaching at a high level and now you’re either going to love to play for me, or hate that I beat you all the time.”

Shannon -- the 2015 Drew League Coach of the Year -- is not shy about boasting his prowess as a winning coach; and he has just as much confidence in his players as he has in himself.

“I assembled this team to compete in TBT based on character, core skills, and knowing how to win,” said Shannon. “Each of these guys that I hand-selected has won at some level.”

Shannon isn’t exaggerating when he says “hand-selected” either. He proudly stated that he has to turn down about three quarters of the guys that want to play on his teams. Among the players that did make the cut for CitiTeam Blazers are Bobby Brown, Craig Smith, and Orlando Johnson, all of whom have spent multiple years in the NBA.

Brown played in the NBA as recently as Janaury, averaging 2.5 points per game in 20 games with Houston. The Rockets, who finished the regular season with the best record in the league, were 17-3 in Brown’s 20 games.

Shannon prides himself on his ability to attract and mold the perfect group of players to win any league or tournament.

“I go on instinct for getting the right character guys,” said Shannon. “You have to mix and match guys to get the right combination. In the game of basketball, you have guys that are winners and guys that aren’t; I’m pretty good at selecting the winners.”

Assisting Shannon on the CitiTeam coaching staff will be Keion Kindred -- the 2016 Drew League Coach of the Year. Unlike Shannon, Kindred did have a playing career of his own.  He had his sights set on a long professional career before his promising career was tragically cut short by various injuries in college. He currently works as a pro basketball skills trainer.

With CitiTeam’s loaded roster and formidable coaching staff, this squad fully expects to be in Baltimore for the final weekend of this year’s tournament in early August.

“I would be very surprised if my team doesn’t at least make it to the finals, if not win,” said Shannon. “I know a lot of guys say that, but I truly believe that we will come out of the West Region for sure.”

Shannon -- and everyone else vying for a TBT title -- is more than aware of the three-time reigning champs Overseas Elite. On the other hand, Shannon does not appear the least bit concerned or intimidated.

“I know we can beat Overseas Elite,” proclaimed Shannon.

As impressive as Shannon’s current accolades already are, he knows how notable a TBT championship would be for his reputation as a coach.

“Winning TBT would be the greatest compliment to my career and to the Drew League overall,” said Shannon. “I just want to be a legend in coaching before I’m done.”