Shumate Named to Notre Dame’s
Posted: March 14, 2005
Even on a night when he was being honored, Suns’ college scout John Shumate found a way to turn in a solid work day. The former forward was named to Notre Dame’s All-Century Team at a halftime ceremony during the Fighting Irish’s March 5 game against Pittsburgh.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Shumate said. “I actually killed two birds with one stone. I was scouting the game with Pittsburgh and then at halftime they introduced us. They kind of announced it like they did when we played. It was awesome because the crowd really responded to us. They gave us these special jerseys to wear. Some of us looked better in those old jerseys than others (laughs).
“My kids were there. They said, 'Dad, coming back here and seeing this and seeing what you went through, what you did, a little kid from the ghetto, the projects of Newark, N.J., to leave that and go to Notre Dame and graduate and be a part of all this is really a credit to who and what you are as a person.’ This is what my kids were saying. They were extremely impressed.”
A consensus All-American in 1973-74, Shumate ranks 20th in school scoring with 1,334 points and his 61-percent career shooting from the field is still tops for the university. A co-captain in 1972-73 and 73-74, Shumate only played two seasons for health reasons. He went on to become the fourth overall pick by Phoenix in the 1974 NBA Draft.
Shumate has a lot of fond memories from his playing days with the Fighting Irish, but one game in particular stands out for him and many longtime Notre Dame fans – the snapping of UCLA’s 88-game winning streak in 1974. The All-Century ceremony paid homage to that victory, one that many feel is the biggest win in school history.
“We were playing against one of the greatest college teams of all time,” he said. “They were beating everyone by an average margin of 29 points a game. Basically their whole team was pros. Bill Walton, an All-Pro player, they had Dave Meyers, Marques Johnson, Richard Washington, Andre McCarter, Swen Nater. We were down 11 points with three minutes to go. We came back and beat these guys. They didn’t score another point the rest of the way. To relive that with the fans was very special.”
Shumate also credits his former Head Coach Digger Phelps with teaching him that, “Basketball is just a little moment in your life. Everything that happens is a moment and you have to enjoy the moment.” Phelps also taught the "focus of discipline," which Shumate feels fell right in line with the university’s unofficial mission statement to help mold him into the person he is today.
“Notre Dame put everything in perspective for me,” Shumate said. “It taught me discipline. It exposed me to so many other walks of life. It educated me, polished me and gave me the finishing touches as a person.”