How injuries led to Deadwiler’s improved defense

In his final season as a Wolverine, Deadwiler is driven by his coach and a past teammate.


Shane Maryott/UVU Review

One of the greatest athletes a coach could ask for is one who understands their role on the court and gives their whole heart in fulfilling their duties.

Senior Guard Shawn Deadwiler has done just that during his time at UVU.

During his senior year of high school, Deadwiler had a breakout season, helping to lead his team to a 29-4 record. That season was later capped off by what Deadwiler referred to as his greatest accomplishment: a high school state championship.

With a quick move to the basket and a smooth jump shot, Deadwiler was honored with a First Team All-Arizona award and an opportunity to play college basketball.

After two years of playing at Loyola Marymount University, Deadwiler transferred here to have the opportunity to play under Coach Dick Hunsaker.

“It really was Coach Hunsaker,” Deadwiler said. “He really knows the game; I thought playing for him I could learn a lot, and I have, so it’s paid off.”

The one area that hasn’t paid off for Deadwiler is his constant battle with knee injuries.

Before the 2009-2010 season started, Deadwiler had knee surgery and came back, in his words, “real early.” It was a short time after rehab that Deadwiler re-injured his knee, which would ultimately establish a role for the guard as a defense specialist.

“Once I got hurt, I didn’t have the quickness I used to have to get to the basket and get to my jumper,” Deadwiler said. “I really focused on defense, watched film and Coach [Hunsaker] knows a lot about different ways to guard. So I mean, once I got hurt, it’s kind of helped my D.”

“Shawn is an outstanding competitor, athletic and smart. You combine those with a strong will, and it can equate to an exceptional defender,” Hunsaker said. “Shawn has embraced that role as a defender; he loves that challenge of competing against an opposition’s scorers and top players. It’s something that’s certainly been a great value to our team.”

Deadwiler would go on to have another knee surgery, but still feels strong discomfort every day and believes himself to only be between 80 and 85 percent healthy while continuing to give 100 percent on the floor.

“Shawn is very knowledgeable. He has a very good feel and savvy for the game,” Hunsaker said.  “He has a great love for the game, and I think he’s been a real stabilizing force, a great foundation for our club this year. I think his attitude and his contributions have been terrific.”

Hunsaker went on to say that, “Shawn is a terrific guy that includes and gets along with others, and is an outstanding teammate as well.”

After two knee surgeries and countless days of knee pain, it would have been easy to give up, and everybody would have understood if the 6-foot-3 guard walked away from the game.

Everybody, that is, except Deadwiler.

“If I could have stayed healthy, things might have been a lot different. But as of right now, I’m just trying to learn as much as I can,” Deadwiler said. “Once I’m done this year, I’m going to try to continue playing somewhere else – use what [Hunsaker] taught me to make it happen.”

Deadwiler knows what it’s going to take to be able to play after college is over and what just might be in store for him. The first challenge he took upon himself, as a young Wolverine, was to guard former UVU All-Independent and nationally recognized scoring star, Ryan Toolson, to whom Deadwiler attributes some of his defensive success.

“Guarding Toolson everyday was a challenge I wanted for myself,” he said. “Ryan made me a better player, and I made him better as well.”

Toolson would go on to play professionally overseas, giving Deadwiler the confidence to continue his pursuit of basketball.

The Wolverine defensive standout credits his father for his love and skill of the game.

“He put the ball in my hands, I owe everything to him,” said Deadwiler.

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