By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
He is as cool as a jazz musician, with a hand as steady as a painter. On the basketball court, he treats the hardwood as his club, his canvas, with an effortless swagger, making the most difficult of shots and crossovers look simple with the utmost creativity. It must be in Shemiye McLendon's blood.
"Music was actually my first passion. I love music, basketball is second," said McLendon, the Pride's sophomore guard. "I beat the drums at church and right now my major here is art. I'm not really good at playing the keys and stuff like that, but I just love music, watching people sing and listening to it."
Hailing from Vero Beach, FL, McLendon was introduced to art and music by his family.
"Growing up, my family basically came from a music, basketball and art backgrounds," said McLendon. "My brothers and sisters sing, they beat the drums, I beat the drums. My dad paints and he played basketball when he was younger. My older brother played ball so I just grew up playing ball. So it was ball and art pretty much. "
The pedigree does not end there.
"My granddad, my dad's father, he's also an artist too. On my mom's side, my grandma and my papa, they sing too and my granddad plays the keyboard so it's all music."
McLendon's grandfather, Roy, was especially gifted when it came to art.
"Back home, he is an artist in a group called ‘The Highwaymen,' which is a group of black artists and he has been painting for a long time, since he was seven, I would say," McLendon said of his grandfather.
From the 1950s through the 1980s, the Florida Highwaymen created works that portrayed the Florida landscape. According to their official site, an original work of art by a Florida Highwayman can easily bring in $5,000 or more.
"I'm majoring in art here," said McLendon. "I just started painting this year so I really don't have a masterpiece yet."
With all that talent in the family, McLendon has become sort of a Renaissance man. ""
And no matter what genre, if it's music, the sophomore will listen to it.
"Well my favorite rapper is Lil' Wayne," said McLendon. "But Kirk Franklin is my favorite gospel artist and Pleasure P is my favorite R&B artist."
Not only can this guy shake you out of your shoes and take it to the hoop on the court, he can even school you culturally. With art, music, basketball and the responsibilities of being a student-athlete, McLendon has a surprisingly cool demeanor, especially on the court.
"It helps me keep my mind off of stuff. When I'm in a bad mood I go to art to clear my head," said McLendon. "When I'm on the court I try to make it seem like I'm not nervous. I just try to keep the focused straight face so I guess that's where music comes in because when I just think about music, I'm out there and nothing else matters so when I'm on the court, it's pretty much the same thing. I try not to let stuff bother me."
Already playing in some big games in his two years at Hofstra, a demeanor like that can help win ball games.
"The more I learn from the older guys and the coaches; I feel like I can show the younger guys and help this team to win," said McLendon. "I have my ups and downs but I'm just trying to keep focused and play hard and help this team win."
Until March at least, McLendon will be working on a masterpiece at the Mack Sports Complex as he tries to help the Pride bring home a piece they can put on display for all to see, a conference championship trophy.