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Move to Springfield made sense for Thurgood Marshall coach

Thurgood Marshall coach Shawn McCullough. Fort Loramie defeated Thurgood Marshall 58-53 inthe 16th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena in Kettering on Mon., Jan. 15, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Thurgood Marshall coach Shawn McCullough. Fort Loramie defeated Thurgood Marshall 58-53 inthe 16th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena in Kettering on Mon., Jan. 15, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Shawn McCullough was Dayton Public Schools Coach of the Year in 2020

Shawn McCullough's phone blew up after Springfield High School announced his hiring as boys basketball coach Wednesday.

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Everyone wanted to congratulate the 1994 Meadowdale High School graduate about his new gig. After four seasons at Thurgood Marshall, McCullough will head to a program he knows well. He played games in Springfield in high school — both in football and basketball — against South High School legends like Chris Wallace and Dee Miller and went 4-0 against Springfield during his time at Thurgood Marshall.

“I don’t want to call it a dream,” McCullough said, “but if I would have had a dream, it’s a dream that came true if that makes sense. My family’s excited about it — my mom, my sisters, brothers, my daughter.”

McCullough signed to play quarterback at Miami University but switched to basketball and played one season as a walk-on at Ohio State and then one season at Sinclair Community College and two seasons at San Jose State. He has been an assistant coach at Sinclair and Middletown High School and a head coach at Stivers.

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Earlier this year, McCullough was named the Dayton Public Schools "All Sports" Coach of the Year. He also was named the Division II District 15 Coach of the Year. Thurgood Marshall finished the season 19-7.

McCullough informed his Thurgood Marshall players about his move on Facetime.

“It was very hard because I love those kids dearly,” he said. “I’ve been around them all their years since they’ve been in high school. It was complicated, but it just made sense for me to move on. Bigger school, more resources.”

McCullough said even though he was born and bred in Dayton Public Schools and coached in the Dayton City League for nine years in all, he couldn’t pass up the job at Springfield, which averaged 19.5 victories a season from 2014-19 before slipping to 12-13 last season.

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“Not knowing how long you’re going to coach, this is a job where I can ride it out — into the sunset,” McCullough said.

McCullough works as a pharmaceutical specialist for AstraZeneca and often does business at Springfield Regional Medical Center and other doctor’s offices in the area. Even before being hired, he had stopped by the high school to watch Springfield football head coach Maurice Douglass, a good friend, and Wallace, an assistant coach, work out the players.

McCullough plans to talk to Springfield Athletic Director Michael Dellapina next week about the plan for his players. He has already been in contact with several of them and told them to be patient.

Springfield’s 2019-20 season was marred by coach Isaiah Carson being placed on administrative leave in January after being arrested on domestic violence charges. He later resigned.

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Springfield announced in early June it would interview five candidates for the job. The others were Wildcats interim coach Matt Yinger; former Grove City coach Greg Waits; former Dublin Jerome coach Jamie Pearson; and Richmond (Ind.) coach Mohammad Khaliq.

“Coach McCullough impressed our interview team from the beginning of the process,” Dellapina said in a press release. “He is going to bring strong leadership to our boys basketball program and already possesses strong ties within the Springfield community. I know that the Wildcat Nation will embrace his energy and commitment to the success of our student-athletes. We are looking to Shawn to take this program to the next level.”