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Coach on the Court, Now Coach on the Bench?

When the 2014-2015 season came to an end for Manhattan College’s men’s basketball team after a First Round loss in the NCAA Tournament, it seemed like it was also the conclusion of RaShawn Stores’ career.

In a Q-and-A with the Quadrangle in April 2015, Stores discussed what he had in mind for his future.

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RaShawn Stores will forego a professional playing career and enter the coaching ranks. Kevin Fuhrmann/The Quadrangle

“My family and Emmy [Andujar] and some of the guys want me to continue playing, so I might play for a while or I might just go straight into coaching,” he said.

But his coaching plans were put on hold, because it was playing, not coaching that was in his immediate future.

The 5-foot-10 point guard had technically finished his fourth year at Manhattan, but had only suited up for three seasons as a Jasper because academic issues forced him to sit out his freshman campaign.

So in August 2015, Stores received news that the NCAA had granted him a fifth year of eligibility.   

The senior played the 2015-2016 season, this time officially his last, and has finished the year with the same thought he ended 2015 with: it’s time to get into coaching.

“I believe I’m going to stick around with Coach Mas and probably coach with Coach Mas,” Stores says about what’s next in his career.

“I still love the game and stuff, but my body can’t take it right now. But, I could see me being around here with Coach Mas and like I said try to help around, help the guys, and see where that takes me.”

While not yet official, Stores won’t have to go too far, as his first job as an assistant coach will be at Manhattan under Steve Masiello. In four seasons as his head coach, Masiello has built a close relationship with Stores, and believes he is capable of doing whatever he sets out to do.    

“If RaShawn wants to be mayor; CFO; president, [Donald] Trump and Hillary [Clinton] better watch out,” Masiello says. “RaShawn can do whatever RaShawn wants. When he puts his mind to something, there’s no stopping him. There’s a difference between being mentally driven and mental toughness, and he’s both. Once he decides ‘this is what’s going to happen,’ there’s not a group, organization, or anyone that’s going to stop him. You’re just not.”

Although Stores, only 25 years old, admits he has offers to play in some games that could help him secure a contract to play overseas, he is confident that his decision to coach is the right one.

“I don’t think I will regret it because I’ve been playing basketball since I was 8 years old,” Stores says.

“It took me across the world … It took me everywhere. It’s been a fun journey. … I played at one of the highest levels in Division 1. Been to NCAA Tournaments twice. I won two rings. A lot of guys go to college and to these big programs and never win a ring or a title. … So I don’t think I’ll regret it at all.”

Similar to Stores, former teammate Michael Alvarado decided to join the coaching ranks quickly.

Before the 2015-2016 got underway, Masiello announced Alvarado’s hiring as an assistant. Alvarado, who graduated from Manhattan in 2014, had played professionally in Puerto Rico for just a little more than a year.

While at Manhattan, Alvarado was known for his grit and leadership, qualities he sees in Stores.

“He’s a natural leader,” Alvarado says about Stores. “Coach said it all year, ‘he’s a natural leader.’ He wants to win, he’s competitive, so from that stand point alone, it’s going to help him out a lot to get his foot in the door.”

Alvarado and Stores have a friendship that dates back to before college. They were teammates in 2008-2009 at All Hallows High School, and from 2011-2014 at Manhattan. Having Stores join him on the coaching staff is something Alvarado is excited about.

“It’s going to be cool,” Alvarado says about getting to work with Stores.

“I’m looking forward to it. We’ve been with each other our entire lives, whether it’s playing with each other or playing against each other, so the fact that we’re continuing now is just another step towards our future.”

Throughout Stores’ career at Manhattan, Masiello referred to him as an extension of the coach out on the court.

As part of Manhattan’s coaching staff, Stores will now have the opportunity to continue to lead the men’s basketball team, a program he thanks for changing his life. Now he just wants to give back.

“I would like to bring that leadership role in and continue to stay around and lead the guys,” Stores says, “especially the young men … teaching them what I know about the game, especially with this system … about the 22, and how defense wins, and basically all about culture … It’s all about the culture around here.”

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