Q & A: Shavonte Zellous

June 5, 2012

Shavonte Zellous, better known by her teammates as “Z,” is the newest face in the Indiana Fever’s starting line-up this season. Recognized for her endless energy and ear-to-ear grin, Zellous is ready to step to the plate and help Indiana pursue a WNBA championship. The University of Pittsburgh graduate, selected by the Detroit Shock in the 2009 WNBA draft, talked with Feverbasketball.com’s Becca Bornhorst about her passion for basketball and for life.   

FeverBasketball.com: This is your third year in a Fever uniform, but your first year as a starter. What did you do in the winter season to improve your game?

Shavonte Zellous: “I’ve just worked hard. This past winter in Europe I continued to expand my game. Last [WNBA] season I was more of an attack person, trying to get to the free throw line. I’m still like that now, but I had to work on expanding my game more, and I feel that I did that.”

FB: Was there anything specific you worked on to expand your game and to make yourself more versatile?

SZ: “I really worked on stretching my shot out to the 3. My game has always been shooting 15 feet and in, even back at Detroit. I haven’t made many 3’s yet [this season], but they’re coming!”

FB: Talk about the differences between being a starter and coming off the bench in this league.

SZ: “Coming off the bench the last few years, I’ve always been an energy player and someone who can give the starters a break. My role was to keep the positive energy alive with the group that I came in with. This year as a starter, I provide that same role, I’m just in the starting lineup instead. My focus is to do whatever it takes to help my team stay together and stay positive. If we want to get a stop on defense, I’m that person who will pull everyone together and say ‘let’s get this!’”

FB: You reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009 at Detroit, and in 2011 with the Fever. Do these two playoff runs make you hungrier to win a WNBA title this season?

SZ: “Absolutely! We were one step closer last year and I was one step closer at Detroit a few years ago before Indiana knocked us out. It’s just about getting over that hump. Not only am I hungry--I think this whole team is hungry to get a championship this year.”

FB: It is no secret that your team is talented, deep and focused on winning a title. What needs to be done at this point in the season to continue to head in that direction?

SZ: “We just have to stay hungry. We can’t have any let-ups. [We played New York twice last weekend] and despite how many losses they have, that doesn’t mean they’re not a great team with great players. If we let up on anybody on any given night, anyone can beat us. We just have to stay hungry and stay after it every day.”

FB: You always carry a big smile on your face, and it looks like you enjoy every second you get to be out on the court. What makes you tick on the floor?

SZ: “Basketball and just having fun! One thing I learned from my college coach at Pittsburgh is just to have fun. There’s no reason to come out on the court and be mad or be sad. God has given all of us great talent and a great opportunity to play basketball, so I just come out here and smile. I’m grateful, I’m thankful and I just love my team.”

FB: Your smile stays with you off the floor as well. What is it about life that keeps you smiling?

SZ: “The Lord Himself keeps this smile on my face. We all have ups and downs and some of us have down days, but we’re in a great position and I’m in a great place. What can I be mad about?”

FB: I see that you have a lot of tattoos. Exactly how many do you have and are there any particular ones that carry special meaning?

SZ: “I have close to 50. One on my leg stands for my great-grandmother who passed away, but the rest are basically just ink and something I wanted to do.”

FB: Is there anything else that Fever fans should know about you?

SZ: “They should know that I like to have fun and that I like to interact with anybody—that’s just the person I am. If you see me having a bad day you need to come hit me in my head and say ‘Wake up! Where’s the smile?’”