Shillingford Representing Dominica At The Highest Level

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Shillingford Representing Dominica At The Highest Level

This past weekend, The Newman School/The House We Built HGSL 7’0” center Kesean Shillingford made his commitment to Stonehill, set to become the first ever player from Dominica to compete at the NCAA Division I level. The decision came despite also receiving offers from Manhattan, Little Rock, and The Citadel.


“I grew up in Dominica playing soccer,” said Shillingford. “I never even thought of playing basketball, so to be in this position is unbelievable…”


Shillingford has a very unique story. He continued outlining the early chapters, describing the origins of his relationship with the game of basketball, and how it has changed and developed throughout his journey.


“Growing up, I was always into soccer and played with my brothers and my friends,” he shared. “Until one day, one of the soccer coaches was also into basketball, and since I was so tall, he told me about it, and I wasn't interested. But then he told my mom about a basketball clinic, and I was forced to go, and ultimately, I ended up enjoying it, even though I wasn't very good at it.”


This was only the very beginning for Shillingford, as things were about to become a lot more serious…


“Soon after, a coach came to the island to recruit one of my friends for basketball and was intrigued by my height,” he said. “I got recruited to move up to the US in order to play basketball, but truthfully, I never even believed in myself initially, until the summer going into my senior year of high school before I reclassed.” 


Shillingford came to New England following a successful stretch in the CHSAA (NY) with Christ the King to compete with Newman in the elite NEPSAC Class-AAA, as well as in the elite New England Basketball League (NEBL).


“I worked hard that year and began to see some changes, and then I thought that maybe I could do it,” he said. “Then the opportunity to come to Boston presented itself, and after talking to family, I took the opportunity, reclassified to 2024, and began working.”


A top-30 prospect out of Massachusetts and top-75 out of New England for the class of 2024, he really jumped onto our radar during the summer of 2023 with another successful grassroots season on the HGSL circuit while competing with The House We Built.


This included a dominant showing at the Hoop Group New England Jam Fest in May, catching our scouts’ attention, noting his athleticism and paint-control on both ends of the floor. This trend continued throughout the summer with the House We Built, tallying three double-doubles during a weekend in July. 


“As his trainer and mentor, I've witnessed his unwavering dedication and relentless work ethic,” said THWB Director of Player Development/HGSL Coach Bobby Martin. “Despite facing challenges and limited opportunities, he never gave up.”


“Through individual workouts and sheer determination, he earned a scholarship to play Division I basketball, showcasing the power of hard work and resilience,” he continued. “His journey is a testament to his growth as a player and person, and I'm proud to have played a part in his transformative journey”


Finally, we also got the chance to speak with The House We Built Executive Director/HGSL Head Coach Alfred Chan, who had similar things to say about Shillingford, both as a player and as a person. 


“It's been a pleasure to work with, coach, and mentor Kesean,” said Chan. “Not only is he a talented basketball player, but he is also a special young man.”


“He's relentless and resilient in his pursuit to be the best version of himself; on the court, he not only gets after it, but he is coachable and a phenomenal teammate,” he explained. “I'm so excited to see him continue his next chapter at Stonehill.”


His success continued into this past school season with Newman as he dominated the paint all year long, grabbing 11 boards in a win over IMG Academy at the National Prep Showcase to kick off the season in November, and grabbing 10 boards in a win over fellow NEPSAC-AAA power St. Thomas More at the National Prep Championship Showcase in March to finish off a great year of New England prep basketball. 


“I'm happy to see all the hard work pay off, and I'm even more excited to see where it will continue to take me,” Shillingford concluded. 


It will be exciting to follow along as Kesean Shillingford joins the Stonehill Skyhawks for the next chapter of his career to take on the Northeast Conference at the Division I level.