River Lions import hot shooter from Iceland
It didn’t take long for Vinnie Shahid to make up his mind to join the Niagara River Lions this summer in their quest for a Canadian Elite Basketball League title.
The 24-year-old Minnesota native’s agent initially contacted River Lions head coach/GM Victor Raso to express an interest in playing.
“He watched some of my games when I was out in Iceland and we built a really good relationship. We both decided it was a really good idea that I come join the family for the summer,” the former Western Nebraska Community College and North Dakota State University collegiate player said. “I knew right away. I could tell by his passion for the game. He loves the game and he is all about working hard and striving to be the best and that is something I love as well.”
Shahid arrived in Niagara for training camp this week and it marked his first visit to Canada.
“I love it here. It kind of reminds me of America a little bit but the people are really nice. The weather is not bad right now but I love it. There are a bunch of guys out here competing and we are all trying to make each other better. It is a great environment.”
He is looking forward to being a contributor for the River Lions.
“The biggest thing for me is to help the program win and second is to become a better leader, become a better basketball player and help everyone here become a better basketball player,” he said. “If I do that, everyone will walk out of here learning something and becoming a better basketball player.”
The 5-foot-11 player recently completed a season with Thor Thorlakshofn of the Iceland Subway League where he averaged 28.6 points, 9.3 assists per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Shahid loved his time in Iceland.
“There was definitely some winter there, for sure, but the people there are really great. I have nothing but love for that country and the team that I played for. They are really passionate about the game of basketball and that is why I fit in well there.”
His highlight of his time in Iceland were the playoffs.
“They were crazy. There’s not very many sports going on there and the whole country pays attention to the playoffs. Everyone is going to the games and it is all over the news and the TV channels. It was a really cool experience and a cool environment to play in.”
Shahid describes his style of play as passionate.
“I am a vocal leader, I like to talk a lot and if you walk into a gym you will probably hear my voice. I do whatever the team needs from me whether it is playing defence, scoring the ball, passing the ball or just being a great teammate if I am not on the court.”
Offence is at the top of his skill set.
“I can put the ball in the hole a little bit. I can shoot it from all three levels — from three, the mid-range and at the rim — and I can finish as well,” the former First Team All-Summit League player said. “A lot of people say that scoring is the best part of my game but that comes from lot of work that I have put it. I like to think of myself as a leader before a scorer.”
Raso describes Shahid as an excellent offensive player.
“Vinnie is a phenomenal passer out of the ball screen, he spaces the floor really well because he is pulling guys five or six feet past the three-point line because of how well he can shoot it and he has great decision-making when he puts the ball down. He is a complete offensive player, a floor general and a leader.”
On defence, Shahid will have to deal with his size like he has done his entire playing career.
“Guys will naturally tend to pick on the small guy and it is going to be a matter of how well he impacts the game on that end,” Raso said.
The River Lions will tip off the season May 26 on the road against the Montreal Alliance. Niagara opens at home June 3 against the Saskatchewan Rattlers. Season tickets, voucher packs, group tickets, and single game tickets are available now. Visit www.riverlions.ca/tickets for more information.