Springfield, Ohio — When the phrase ‘Dayton high school basketball powerhouse’ is said, what teams come to mind? Is it the defending division two state champion Trotwood Rams? Or maybe the school that’s put out countless division one athletes like Trey Landers and Xeyrius Williams, in Wayne. Could it be the emerging powerhouse led by Coach Cupps in the Centerville Elks?
Well, the topic of this article surrounds the powerhouse program of Thurgood Marshall. Unfortunately, the Cougars might be losing their ‘powerhouse’ title this season . . .
Here’s a timeline . . .
In January of 2020, the unfortunate news broke of decorated Springfield basketball coach, Isaiah Carson, being placed on administrative leave after being arrested on domestic violence charges. This was right before their long awaited game against former Wildcat, and at the time, Spire Academy athlete, Ra’Heim Moss. Assistant coach, Matt Yinger, took the role of interim coach during Carson’s absence.
Two months later, in March, Springfield’s season came to an end in the third round of the postseason at the hands of the Beavercreek Beavers. Coach Carson had yet to make his return. During the same month, Carson was found guilty at his trial and ordered to serve 60 days in jail, with 120 of the 180 days suspended, to be on probation for a year and to have no contact with the victim.
In April, Coach Carson made an attempt to request an early release . . . his request was denied.
A month later, in May, we began to receive the word that Thurgood Marshall’s head coach, Shawn McCullough, would possibly be heading to Springfield to become the wildcat’s new head coach.
The next month, in June, not only were the rumors of McCullough possibly leaving confirmed by a statement released by Springfield’s athletic director, but we also got word on Thurgood Marshall’s assistant coach, Tony Dixon, leaving the elite team to become the head coach at Dunbar.
The statement from AD, Mike Dellapina, read that there were more than 25 applicants to take over the vacant coaching job at Springfield. But, the program was able to narrow it down to the five final candidates. On June 9, the final five were released and included, Matt Yinger (interim coach), Greg Waits (Grove City), Jamie Pearson (Dublin Jerome), Mohammed Khaliq (Richmond, Ind.), and . . . Shawn McCullough (Thurgood Mashall).
Then, the week of June 21st, we privately received confirmation that Coach McCullough would be leaving the Thurgood Marshall program to accept the coaching job at Springfield. But, it wasn’t until July 1st that Springfield, along with McCullough, made the move public.
McCullough has spent the last three seasons at Thurgood, and been able to paint their program’s image as a dominate one. He’s been honored with multiple coach of the year awards, while serving as an assistant at Sinclair, Middletown, and the former head coach at Stivers. As head coach at the school of arts, he led Stivers to their first district title in nearly 30 years.
With this hiring, you can expect Springfield to bring on a transfer or two, which we’ve already caught rumor and near confirmation of. They also had the top Junior Varsity squad in their conference, so they’ll be developing a nice group of young talent, especially in 23′ guard, Tyron Barns. According to Dayton Daily News, “He (McCullough) has already been in contact with several of them (Springfield’s players) and told them to be patient”. Expect McCullough to take the wildcat program to the next level.
The wildcats will have to fight for a top spot in a competitive GWOC, facing a tough group of teams in Wayne, Fairmont, Beavercreek and Centerville. Miamisburg will also have a majority returning team after finishing 16-8 last season.
Marshall was on track to have all of their contributers return, and to run the Dayton City League. With the loss of two of Thurgood’s key leaders on their coaching staff, it’s almost certain the all-star cougar roster will be breaking up.
Will they follow Coach Dixon to Dunbar? Or, will they follow McCullough to Springfield? Will they join another powerhouse program like West Carrollton and Trotwood? Or, could they start their own dynasty elsewhere . . .
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