Ever meet a guy who just can't lose? Well, Sean Wallis is pretty close. He won an IHSA Basketball championship at Glen Brook North High School and two NCAA DIII championships at Wash U. Wallis seems to win wherever he goes. A recent graduate, the north shore native is now weighing his playing options.
If I could give him advice, it would be to go play in an Israeli league and have a great time living in Israel. And knowing his playing record, he would probably come back with some hardware to add to his trophy case. Wallis is a really nice guy and surrounds himself with good people. (In fact, he is Facebook friends with my sister). Recently, I was fortunate enough to get a chance to chat with him:
The Great Rabbino: You played High School at Glenbrook North High School basketball with Jon Scheyer. What was that experience like?
Sean Wallis: I've actually been playing basketball with Jon since he was in fourth grade and I was in fifth grade. Not only is he an incredible basketball player, but he's an awesome person too. He works harder at his game than anyone I've ever met and I couldn't be happier that he had the year he did because no one deserves the success more than him. I was lucky enough to get to go to Indianapolis and watch him and even celebrate with him after they won, which was an experience I'll never forget. High school basketball was an awesome time for me— not just because we won a state championship my senior year—
but because we played in front of sold out crowds every night.
Who would win one on one, you or Scheyer?
The summer going into my senior year of high school, we would go to this half court gym and play a best of seven series four nights a week. We probably played 100 games over the course of a few months and I won... approximately six or seven. That being said, I think he'd win if we played. I could definitely score on him here and there, but getting a stop is a really tough thing for me to do against him.
You were a part of both the 2008 and 2009 Wash U Bear Championship teams, what was that like?
It was incredible and two very different experiences. In 2008, I actually had a season ending broken leg in the third game of the season. In 2009, I was named Most Outstanding Player in the tournament. While people say "oh, but it's D3," it is the same national championship trophy, we get the same hats and t-shirts, the same confetti raining down, and we're on national TV, also. I can't even begin to explain how lucky I am to have gotten the chance to play with such awesome teammates and win it all during my basketball career.
Why did you decide to play ball at Wash U? Did you have a chance to play DI?
Wash U was the best combination of basketball, academics and location. It had an undergraduate business school which was very important. It also allowed me to play in an awesome conference where I could compete for a national championship. We visited more cities than a lot of DI teams— New York, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago and Pittsburgh— during the regular season, which was awesome. I had the chance to walk on at some bigger DIs and a few smaller DIs came into the picture after the state tournament my senior year, but I knew I wanted to use my basketball to get me into a great academic school.
You were recently named DIII First Team All American, what was that like? Was it the highlight of your basketball career?
The individual accolades are a real nice honor, without a doubt. It always feels great to be recognized for the hard work that you put in day in and day out. But honestly, the highlights of my basketball career have been the championships I've won and the memories I’ve made with my teammates. There's nothing like celebrating in a locker room or at half court with a group of guys you spend so much time with.
What are your plans now that your collegiate basketball career has come to an end?
I'm still up in the air. I've been contacted by a few agents and even teams about the opportunity to play basketball professionally over in Israel. It is one of the premier leagues in all of Europe and being a Jew has its advantage, as I can obtain citizenship, and not be considered an "international" player. So that is one possibility, but I also am looking at different opportunities in strategy and management consulting in the Chicago area. Hopefully, I'll figure it out over the next month.
Living on the North Shore of Chicago, (we asked Colt Cabana this same question) what is your favorite Chicago Pizza?
Well, this is a tough question. I have grown to enjoy deep dish more and more as I've gotten older. When I was nine I told Mark Malnati, the owner of Lou Malnati’s, that I hated his pizza without knowing who he was. Even though it isn't very Chicagoan of me, I have to say that by far and away my favorite pizza is Barnaby's. Nothing beats it.
You have one Bulls player ever to take the final shot in a championship game, who do you let take it John Paxson or Steve Kerr?
Funny question considering I'd kill to have either of their jobs right now. Both hit NBA Finals game winners, Pax in Phoenix and Kerr against Utah at a game I was at, but I'd have to say Pax just because I grew up going to his camps and knew his son Ryan pretty well— love that jumper.
Any other Jewish college basketball players TGR fans should watch out for?
There are a couple of Jewish Americans I'd love to give a shout out to that are playing over in Israel professionally right now. Both Todd Golden and Ben Rudin have been really helpful in showing me the way and telling me about their experiences over there. Todd was a great player for DI St. Mary's (CA) and Ben was a big time DIII guard at Middlebury.
To read more about Wallis, check this out.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
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