Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Chambliss finally at home

He is one of the most intense players on the men’s basketball team. He is constantly handing out advice to the younger players. His enthusiasm during games is unmatched. But no one will find his name in the box score this season or, unless they venture out to practice, see him shoot one of his silky smooth 3-pointers.

This is the reality that transfer Sharif Chambliss knew he would have to deal with this season.

Chambliss, a Racine, Wis. native, was a highly touted prospect his senior year. En route to being named all-state and honorable mention all-American, he led his St. Catherine’s team to a 23-1 record and a state title.


It would be logical to assume Dick Bennett and his men’s basketball coaching staff beat down his door, but the reality was, they were not too interested.

However, Chambliss was not ready to give up his dream of playing in the competitive Big Ten and decided early his senior year that Penn State was the place he wanted to be, especially after coaches told him he would have a good chance of playing right away his freshman year.

Plans changed, however, as Chambliss watched senior guards Joe Crispin and Titus Ivory have stellar senior seasons and take the Nittany Lions to the Sweet Sixteen.

His sophomore season, Chambliss assumed a larger role on the team as he stepped up to lead his team in scoring with 14.6 points per game, good enough for10th in the Big Ten in scoring. He also led the conference in made 3-pointers with 3.54 per game.

Despite his individual performance, his team finished 3-13 in the Big Ten, 7-21 overall and lacked support from the community. It was during this season he began to doubt his desire to play for the Nittany Lions.

“I thought about transferring after my sophomore year, but I felt like as a grown man, once I made a decision, I needed to stand by my decision,” Chambliss said. “So, I decided to try and stick it out another year and see if things would get better. I kept telling myself, it’ll get better, it’ll get better.”

Things did not get better. His team went 7-21 again and Chambliss knew he was not happy at Penn State and needed to move on to another school. Mid-season, he applied for his release papers from the team and began to weigh his options.

Shortly after he received his release last spring, his dad contacted an old friend he had known for years: Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan.

Oddly enough, Ryan had originally recruited Chambliss out of high school to come play with his team while he was coaching at UW-Milwaukee.

The Wisconsin staff agreed to meet with Chambliss, so during his spring break, he hopped on a plane for a two-day visit to Madison.

UW assistant coach Greg Gard said the staff was not hesitant about inviting Chambliss to join the team.

“We had known the family for a long time. We had known Sharif and his background and obviously had a chance to see him play for two years,” Gard said. “We knew the type of person he was and the type of family he came from, so that wasn’t a concern.” Chambliss left for Madison a happy man, knowing next season he would be a Badger. However, because Chambliss was transferring within the conference, he had to sit out a year and would not be eligible for a scholarship.

These terms were okay with Chambliss, who wanted more than anything else just to be involved with a winning program, a winning team, a supportive community and be near his family with whom he is so close.

However, his transfer was not simply a one-sided deal. The Badgers obtained a three-year Big Ten veteran, a two-time all-Big Ten guard, one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the conference and would get all this without having to give him a scholarship.

“He gave us a lot of fits; he was hard to guard! He has always been a good shooter and he understands the game and plays extremely smart,” Gard said. “We knew that if he got any glimpse of the rim, it was going to go up. He caused us a lot of headaches trying to chase him around screens and always being cognizant of where he was. It’s good now that we have him on our side and we don’t have to worry about doing that anymore.”

Not only are the Badgers free of worrying about him on the opposite team, they also have an outstanding veteran player who can teach his younger teammates, particularly his fellow scout team teammates, those same tricks that made him so impossible to guard.

“He knows what it takes day in and day out to prepare for opponents we see. For him, being able to be a leader by example in going against the regular group, he obviously knows how important and how valuable that is in preparation,” Gard said.

“Sharif knows what it’s like, and the level they have to play at every day. He knows pretty much every player that he has to emulate on the scout team for that particular week. He has already played that guy or guarded that guy, so he can probably rattle off more things about the opponent than what we (the coaching staff) can.”

Chambliss, dubbed the “Energizer Bunny” by former teammates, recognizes that while he cannot directly contribute to the team’s wins and losses by scoring on the court, he indirectly has a huge impact on the team’s success by preparing them the best he can for games through practice. He considers that his No. 1 job this season.

“It’s definitely an advantage,” said redshirt freshman Brian Butch. “He knows what it’s like every game. He’s been a leader out there for the scout team, showing us how hard we need to work to prepare the guys for the game.”

Along with his duties on the court, Chambliss has also stepped up to take more of a leadership role off the court.

As Butch struggled with his decision to redshirt, Alando Tucker dealt with an injury and Freddie Owens fought through his shooting woes, Chambliss was there to help each and every one of them by offering them his advice and sharing with them his knowledge.

“He comes to practice the same every day: with a smile on his face,” Gard said. “He is always happy to be here, enjoying life and enjoying his years here. He fits in like he has been here for three years. There was really no looking at him being an outsider. He fit in from day one.”

Chambliss himself would be the first to agree with his coach, as he cannot stop saying, “I love it here and I love playing with this team.”

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