Shamar Florence is defined first and foremost by one word—energy.
“He can bring a lot just walking down the hall,” Hun boys’ basketball coach Jon Stone said.
The senior has brought it all with him from Bordentown to the Princeton-based prep school, as he provides a little bit of everything on the basketball court. The athletic Florence does not have eye-popping statistics, but his value comes in various ways.
“He’s been around for four years now,” Stone said. “He knows the program, he knows the system. He’s one of our more experienced guys. He has the ability to bring energy and run the floor, bring some pop and get going scoring, get us going with steals. He can bring a lot of that to the table.”
Post-graduate Andrew Seager, a transfer from Ocean Township, immediately embraced his new teammate.
“I love playing with Shamar,” Seager said. “He’s a lockdown defender. He can score the ball at will but we have a lot of offensive players on our team so it’s kind of hard to get one player to score the whole time. But he can do a lot of things for us.”
In the end, however, it comes down to the “E” word.
“Most importantly, energy,” said Florence when asked what his main role is. “I have to bring energy to my teammates. When they’re down I bring them up. When they’re up I keep it up. Being the one to score if we need a basket, being the lockdown defender, getting an open shot in transition. Do all the dirty work basically.”
Which is something he enjoys.
“I like to get knocked down and gritty,” Florence said with a grin.
Florence began his career at age 6 playing in the Bordentown Area Basketball League. He was already advanced past many of the players in BABL and not surprisingly became a standout for Bordentown Middle School. Back in those days he was a scorer. He joined the Mid-Jersey Mavericks AAU team and decided on Hun for its strong academics and the big-time schedule it plays.
“I love playing here,” he said. “We play national teams, the best teams out here. It’s great exposure, a great experience. We all get better each and every game. It’s a great atmosphere.”
Florence made varsity as a freshman but only played in one game. As a sophomore he was still working his way into the lineup and played in 12 contests. Last year as the Raiders sixth man, he averaged 5.5 points in 19 games. He has moved into the starting lineup as a senior.
“I started out coming off the bench toward the end of the fourth quarter,” he said. “Last year I started to get more time. This year they have me as more of a ball handler and a shooter.”
Florence can hit a 3-pointer in the halfcourt offense and also has the ability to finish on the fast break. With his long arms he provides tenacious defense.
“My defense is about ball denial, get in a person’s head,” he said. “I try to guard the best player on the other team; and just do the little things on defense to help us win.”
‘He’s got a warm personality and an ability to make everybody feel comfortable.’
Stone has watched with admiration as Florence has worked hard to better himself.
“He came as a freshman young and inexperienced,” the coach said. “He had some learning and growing to do, and he’s done that. He’s gotten better every year. It’s been fun to watch.”
Ironically, one of his weakest points in ninth grade has become his strongest.
“He’s come a long way, and one of the things he really got better at is the energy piece, learning how to play hard,” Stone said. “He’s evolved as a much better defender, as a shooter. Just so many different ways. He’s just gotten better every year.”
Florence was a big scorer coming up through the ranks and is still capable of putting up some big numbers. But the Raiders lean more on his intangibles.
“He has the ability to score but with him, it’s as much about his leadership and experience as anything,” Stone said. “He’s definitely going to have some big scoring nights for us but it’s about the whole package. That’s what we preach as a team as opposed to having one guy to do the scoring. He certainly is going to do some scoring for us but with him it’s about a lot of things.”
One of those things is making new teammates feel right at home.
“He’s got a warm personality and an ability to make everybody feel comfortable,” Stone said. “That’s huge.”
Exhibit A: when Seager transferred in.
“He welcomed me with open arms,” the PG said. “He’s a real friendly kid, obviously a good basketball player. If I’m down he always brings me up. If he’s down I pick him up. We’re like brothers now in the short time we’ve known each other.”
Florence feels that forming chemistry with newcomers is as much a part of his job as dribbling, shooting and rebounding.
“If we have a new guy I want to welcome him in,” he said. “That’s important.”
For when it comes to Florence, the most fun about playing basketball is who he is doing it with. He admitted as much when asked what his highlight has been at Hun so far.
“Just going out every day with my teammates,” he said. “That’s what stands out the most.”
And once he’s out there, he knows how to energize them.