Closing a chapter: Alumnus returns for St. Edward’s University Athletic Hall of Fame induction

Weinstein played basketball at St. Edward’s University for three seasons.

A decade ago, the St. Edward’s University men’s basketball team was not the successful program it is today.

Coming off four-straight losing seasons, a new head coach Ryan Marks took over in 2004. Soon after Marks became head coach, a transfer-player helped transform the basketball culture at St. Edward’s.  

Leading St. Edward’s to three Heartland Conference Championship titles in 2006-08 was shooting guard Shawn G. Weinstein. Marks describes him as having a “residual impact on the program, even beyond the teams he played on.”

On Feb. 20, during Homecoming weekend, Weinstein was inducted into the St. Edward’s University Athletic Hall of Fame.

“We were a team, so this Hall of Fame award isn’t just for me. It’s a collective effort, and it shows what we did as a team,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein was born and raised in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, where he grew up watching the Los Angeles Lakers’ dynasties with his family.

At a park nearby his house, Weinstein remembers making his very first basket when he was about three years old.

“My dad held me up, and I made the basket,” Weinstein said. “Actually seeing the ball fall into the basket was very fulfilling … and it was the starting point of my love for basketball.”

Although he grew up playing tackle football, soccer and was a star baseball player, he chose to pursue basketball for the challenges the sport presented.

“I’m a 6 foot 1 Jewish-Filipino kid — and a lot of people will tell you, ‘You have no chance at playing pro,’ ‘Playing college sports is going to be tough,’ ‘You’re not that athletic’ — but I just attribute it to the work ethic I put in,” he said.

In studying the game’s finest details, Weinstein would pick a prime professional player from each position and focus on his strengths. Then he tried to incorporate these pieces of basketball superstars into his own style of play.

Finishing his first semester at San Diego State University in 2004, Weinstein decided to transfer to another basketball program, so he wouldn’t have to wait until his senior year for experience and playing time. 

After visiting with Marks, and receiving a tour of St. Edward’s from the basketball team’s student manager Brandon Lepow, Weinstein then had to decide where he would play for the next three years.  

A week later, the St. Edward’s men’s basketball team was on a road trip to play against Texas A&M-Commerce University just before Christmas. Stopping for a bite to eat at a Cracker Barrel outside of Dallas, Marks was standing in the restaurant parking lot when he received a phone call from Weinstein, his newest player.

“You think back to certain moments and the importance of it,” Marks said. “For whatever reason, at that moment, I knew Shawn was going to start a big change for our program. Obviously, I didn’t know to what extent, but it resonates with me that I know exactly where I was when he called to say that he was coming to St. Edward’s.”

Marks said team practices that spring became more intense upon Weinstein’s arrival due to his competitive nature and unique confidence. 

Creating a dynasty of his own, the starting shooting guard led the team to three consecutive Heartland Conference Championship titles. Weinstein was also named the conference’s Most Valuable Player his junior season.

Being at a smaller campus also helped him thrive academically. Weinstein studied business administration with an international business emphasis, graduating magna cum laude in 2008. 

Afterwards, he played in the Israeli Basketball Association, and in 2010, was a first-round draft pick in the Philippine Basketball Association. He credits his diverse family background and interest in learning languages for allowing him to integrate well into different arenas and cultures.

“I knew he always had the desire and will to [play basketball internationally] and take advantage of it,” Marks said. “I think he was very appreciative and energized by the opportunities to live in Israel and the Philippines, and I was really glad to see him enjoy those opportunities.”

Encouraged by his mother to be multi-faceted, Weinstein used his business degree to co-found WJG Asia alongside Head Publicist Lana Faith Johnson in 2012. Still playing basketball in the Philippines, the entrepreneur’s young branding firm organizes public relations events for companies seeking to grow internationally.

Humbly grateful, Weinstein says several people and struggles have shaped his life, teaching him how to deal with failure and knowing his worth.

“Every player on the team and in the organization — from the towel boy to the president to the head coach to the last assistant to the practice player — everybody has an impact on the goal to win a championship,” Weinstein says. “And it’s the same in business. Everyone is important.”

Retiring from professional basketball in April of 2015 was an emotional decision that enabled Weinstein to briefly practice live play-by-play broadcasting for FOX Sports Asia, but now ultimately focus on his expanding business.

Coming full-circle, Weinstein returned to California in September 2015. Less than a month after moving to Los Angeles, he received a letter from the St. Edward’s Athletics Dept. informing him of his Hall of Fame induction. 

Initially having to re-read the letter, Weinstein then hugged his parents and contacted Marks, who now coaches at the University of St. Francis in Illinois.

Sharing what he told his father at the St. Edward’s induction ceremony, Weinstein said, “The Hall of Fame nod, which was a pleasant surprise, was actually the best way to write the final sentence in the book of my playing career.”