Throughout his entire life, Shawn Lewis has known one thing: basketball. Ever since he received a Fisher Price basketball hoop when he was 2 years old, Lewis has been hooked.
Lewis began his basketball career in elementary school and always had his eye set on being able to dunk. He said it started out as just being able to touch the rim, but grew into a goal of his. Lewis went straight to his dad asking how to accomplish his goal and his dad started him on a training program right away.
“I would run or hop up 100 or 200 steps everyday after school,” Lewis said. “Those steps were real steep and tough on my legs.”
When seventh grade rolled around, Lewis was able to jam for the first time . He said it was a great experience to accomplish his goal and something he will always remember.
Lewis did not start his high school career with the best of beginnings. He attended Berkeley High School and played on the varsity team as a freshman. Unfortunately, Lewis said he continually clashed with his head coach since the coach did not like Lewis’s dad being so involved. In the middle of his sophomore year, Lewis transferred to Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland.
At Bishop O’Dowd, his struggles continued with his head coach. Following his junior year, his coach was fired. With a new coach, Lewis led his team to the state championship game where they lost to Artesia High School, but Lewis said he learned a great deal about himself as a player.
“With everything that happened in high school, it made me appreciate the struggle more and made me stronger as a player,” Lewis said.
At Cal Poly, Lewis has been a consistent contributor ever since gaining a starting spot midway through his freshman season. He said his strong work ethic is a major reason for his success at this level. Lewis said when he sees someone in the gym working on their game he wants to go to work immediately to improve his own.
“I don’t like the sense that anyone is getting better than me,” Lewis said.
His teammates have noticed the extra work Lewis has put in to improve himself. Senior forward Ryan Darling said Lewis is always working after practice and is one of the last people to leave every night.
“He will constantly be in the gym getting extra shots in and working on his ball handling,” Darling said. “He sets a great example for the rest of the team through his play.”
Lewis’s dedication to the game has impressed head coach Joe Callero this year. Callero said Lewis is the most exciting player on the team who can do it all and is improving every day.
“Shawn is improving himself as a complete player instead of just being a stereotypical athlete,” Callero said.
Callero is also impressed with his ability to remain focused on his goals both on and off the court.
Lewis’s competitive nature remains one of the strongest aspects of his game along with his athletic ability.
“He brings strength and power to our team,” Darling said. “His hops are out of control.”
Lewis has used these aspects of his game to average 10.1 points per game and dish out 2.4 assists per game through 20 games this season. One of the biggest moments for him this season was during a recent home game against UC Riverside. Lewis was fouled with 1.9 seconds remaining and the game tied at 65. He stepped to the line for two shots with the game in balance.
“I had to make those shots,” Lewis said. “I got a chance to get the win for my team and I’m grateful for that opportunity.”
Lewis nailed both shots and Cal Poly went on to win the game by two thanks to his clutch free throws.
Lewis said his goals for the rest of the season include winning the Big West conference title and getting into the NCAA tournament, which would be the first time in school history.
“It would mean a lot of exposure for my teammates and the school if we could make it that far,” Lewis said.
Throughout his entire career, Lewis said his family has been a huge part of his success. He said his dad always pushed Lewis to be better and never took it easy on him. His dad has not missed a single game despite playing at least 200 games, if not more, throughout his life. Lewis added his mom is a big emotional supporter and oftentimes will come watch him play when the Mustangs are at home.
Despite the obstacles Lewis has faced, he is thankful to be playing the game he loves. Lewis said he would not change anything about the path he has taken and cannot imagine himself doing anything else.
“He has the athleticism and the drive to position himself to play professionally in the future,” Callero said.
No matter what happens, Lewis said he wants to use his God-given talent to keep him playing basketball as long as he can.