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The Saint Peter’s Peacocks became the first No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament story of reaching the Elite Eight after a stunning 67-64 win over the third seed Purdue Friday night. Behind their run is a coach whose story as a brave college player is helping this small New Jersey school reach unlikely heights.
New York native Shaheen Holloway has always stayed true to her roots. Born in Queens, Holloway played high school basketball just across the river in Elizabeth, New Jersey, at St. Patrick’s, where he became one of the nation’s top prospects.
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After turning down offers to play in powerhouses like duke and Georgia TechnologyHolloway attended Seton Room in New Jersey, where he played a pivotal role in ending a Pirates NCAA Tournament drought and becoming one of the program’s greats.
Holloway returned to New York to begin his coaching career, making a name for himself at Iona College, his alma mater, and eventually Saint Peter’s.
“It’s who I am,” said Holloway ESPN in an interview this week. “It’s me as a person. When someone is loyal to me, loyalty is [given] Back right. I’m the kind of person who wanted to take on challenges.”
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In high school, Holloway starred alongside NBA big names in the 1996 McDonald’s All-Star Game, including the legendary Kobe Bryant, Stephen Jackson and Richard Hamilton. Holloway was named the game’s MVP after finishing with seven points, eight assists and six steals.
Holloway praised that 1996 team in an interview with NJ.com in 2020, recalling Kobe’s reaction to being snubbed for MVP.
“He was a competitor, he had that competitive spirit,” Holloway said of Bryant. “You have to realize the team we had at the McDonald’s game in the East, there were so many top guys. He was taking his time all the time, like he always wanted to be the best.”
SETON HALL STAND OUT
Holloway made an immediate impact on the field as a rookie at Seton Hall, averaging 17.3 points, 6.3 assists, 2.8 steals and 3.8 rebounds per game and was named to the Big East All-Rookie team. He helped his team reach the Sweet 16 in 2000 before an injury ended his college career. He completed his four years as All-Time Hacker Support Leader with 681. He also scored 1,588 career points, the 17th-highest total in program history.
Holloway was a two-time All-Big East second-team selection and was named Big East’s Most Improved Player in his senior year. He was inducted into the Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame in June 2012.
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THE RETURN OF SHAHEEN
After a professional career overseas, Holloway returned to Seton Hall in 2006 as an administrative assistant before joining the Iona Gaels, where he was an assistant coach under Kevin Willard for three seasons, helping turn a 2- 28 in a 21-10 team. central.
Holloway followed Willard to Seton Hall as assistant coach in 2010 and eventually associate head coach for eight seasons. During his stay therethe Pirates recorded three straight 20-win seasons for the first time since 1991-93 and NCAA Tournament appearances in three straight seasons for the first time in four straight appearances between 1991 and 1994.
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In 2018, Holloway took over as head coach at Saint Peter’s. It was appointed the 2020 MAAC Coach of the Year in his second season. This year, he led the Peacocks to their first 20-win season since 2016 and is amid the program’s best NCAA tournament run.
“It’s the ultimate scenario,” Fran Fraschilla, a former college basketball coach and longtime TV analyst, told Fox News of Holloway ahead of Saint Peter’s Sweet 16 victory.
“The tough kid from Queens who was injured in the NCAA tournament and couldn’t play – couldn’t finish his career – now has the chance to coach a tough, brave team that has become the darling of the country, and so we literally have – I wouldn’t say David versus Goliath – but Shaheen versus Goliath this weekend.
The Peacocks will look to continue their Cinderella run with a win over the No. 8 seed Tar Heels Sunday night.