"I think the biggest asset Shawn has is his versatility," said his older brother Courtney Long. "He can beat them inside and, if needed, he can go outside and beat them."
Courtney gave an example of how Shawn did that very thing during the 2010-2011 season.
"The most exciting game that I have seen was when they were playing Ellender," said Courtney. "They had basically shut Shawn down in the inside due to triple teaming and also having a big kid, who was about 6-7, 6-8 or so. Then, when we got to a situation where we were down by about 17, Shawn switched his game up and went to the outside. And he went 5-for-5 with three-pointers. That was the most exciting game for me to see, thus far. To see him take that initiative when he saw the game drifting away from them was really exciting for me to see."
It wasn't just a one-game thing for Shawn to showcase such outstanding outside play. He had actually been a guard most of his career, at least up until high school.
"(One of the things the Mississippi State coaches) liked was that he can handle the ball so well at his height," said Courtney. "But as I told them, until his (2 inch) growth spurt (since the end of his junior season), he was playing guard. He started playing basketball in the fourth grade and was 6-2 when he got to high school, so he has been a guard his entire life until recently. (MSU head) Coach (Rick) Stansbury said being a guard for so long allowed him to develop those skills. And then, naturally, with the growth spurt in high school they put him in the post, so he had the chance to develop his post skills as well."
Showcasing that inside-outside talent his senior season and growing two inches moved Shawn from being a mid-major college talent to major college talent. And the colleges started coming out, especially the past few months.
"As of late, he had offers from Oklahoma, Tennessee, Tulane and Mississippi State,"said Courtney. "I also heard from Texas. They asked where they were with Shawn. We actually had gotten to the point this spring where he almost signed with Tulane but he didn't."
Instead of signing with Tulane, they decided to officially visit Mississippi State, and possibly another school or two.
"He officially visited Mississippi State this week," said Courtney. "He came back this Wednesday. The other team we visited most recently was, of course, Tulane. And he was planning on visiting Oklahoma this weekend. In the early signing period, we also visited La Tech."
Although the visit to Oklahoma was still scheduled as late as Thursday night, Shawn put an end to that Friday morning.
"I got word Thursday night that he definitely wanted to sign (with Mississippi State)," said Courtney. "But we had already had the Oklahoma visit set up, so I wanted him to go ahead and keep his word on that. But this morning he was very adamant that he wanted to sign with Mississippi State. And I didn't have a problem with Mississippi State at all. And he kept saying Mississippi State, Mississippi State, so at that point we, as a family, felt good about it, so (we said) let's do it."
Courtney said the plans appear to be that Shawn with sign within the next two or three days.
"He is committed but he hasn't signed yet (Update: Shawn signed with MSU Saturday), but I expect that to happen in the near future, probably Monday at the latest," said Courtney.
As for why Shawn was so adamant about Mississippi State, Courtney explained why.
"From what he told me, it was the whole atmosphere at Mississippi State," said Courtney. "And other things that really sold him was the academic center and the new practice facility. And also just the feel he got from being around Coach Stansbury. I felt the same. It just felt genuine."
Courtney saw this genuineness first-hand.
"I've been on every visit with him," said Courtney, who mentioned that Shawn was intially recruited by MSU assistant coach Phil Cunningham. "The first thing I want to point out about the coaches is they seem genuine, and, secondly, they seem to be down to earth people. Being that my brother is going off to college, my main concern is family. We are strong on family from where we are from. What really sold me is the situation and the interaction with Coach Stansbury and the players just felt genuine. It was just real. That really sold me. Plus, it is close enough home where we can reach him if we need to and it is far enough away so he can have his independence."
The proximity to home was a very important factor in Shawn choosing Mississippi State.
"With us losing our dad in 2002 and our middle sister having lupus and on dialysis, we didn't want Shawn to have to worry about that, so we wanted him to have the support group around him that would be that family away from home," said Courtney. "We wanted to see how he interacted with them. That was one of the main things I was looking for when we went to any school."
And they found that at Mississippi State. Courtney expects Shawn to be attending Mississippi State as early as the first summer session.
"Coach Stansbury is aiming to get him into summer school, probably June 1st."
With his Saturday signing, Shawn Long joined the other members of Mississippi State's 17th ranked signing class - Rodney Hood, David Gardner, Deville Smith and Roquez Johnson.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.