At 23, Garrett College’s Matt McCullough will be the youngest head men’s basketball coach in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference. McCullough’s youth, however, is more than offset by his love of the game and high basketball I.Q., according to Southern Garrett High coaching legend Tom Bosley.
“He has an unbelievable passion for basketball and that’s where it should start,” said Bosley, who was McCullough’s high school coach and then gave the Southern Garrett grad his first coaching job. “He’s very intelligent and he understands the game. He’s been around the game since he was a ball boy for me and all the way up through the ranks. He’s just amazing for his age.”
Frostburg State University head coach Sean Brown, who hired McCullough as a Bobcat assistant coach, predicted McCullough “is going to do a phenomenal job at Garrett College.”
“Matt is a star in this business,” said Brown. “He has everything you want in a coach – the X’s and O’s, defensive schemes, relating to players. And he’s already worked under a Hall of Fame coach [Bosley].
“I don’t think Garrett could have made a better choice,” continued Brown. “He’s a great young man who has perspective and has been preparing for this moment for years.”
“Matt comes from a great coaching pedigree, working under Coach Bosley and Coach Brown,” noted GC Co-Athletic Director Eric Hallenbeck. “I know Tom and Sean very well and have the utmost respect for both of them. If they say you need to get this guy, you try and get it done.”
McCullough, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Frostburg State and will finish a master’s degree in business administration from FSU next spring – said it was a “tremendous opportunity” to get his first head coaching position in the county where he grew up.
“I’m just so excited to have this opportunity,” said McCullough. “The community support here has always been unbelievable. I experienced the way this community supports its teams during my time at Southern Garrett and I look forward to that kind of support at Garrett College.”
“I’m extremely impressed with Matt’s passion for coaching and how he has prepared himself for this opportunity,” said Garrett College President Richard Midcap, who interviewed McCullough as part of the search process. “And he couldn’t possibly have had better mentors than Coach Bosley and Coach Brown. I think Matt is going to do a phenomenal job for us.”
McCullough was a three-sport athlete – golf, basketball and baseball – at Southern Garrett and qualified for the NJCAA national tournament in golf while a student at Allegany College of Maryland. Even so, basketball was always his favorite sport.
“I was Coach Bosley’s manager when I was 4 or 5 years old,” recalled McCullough. “My passion was always basketball.”
McCullough moved directly from playing for the Rams to coaching under Bosley after graduating from Southern in 2016.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be an NBA player,” said McCullough. “And I thought coaching was the next-best thing to playing.”
McCullough was hired by Brown to be an FSU assistant before the start of the 2020-21 basketball season. He said starting his collegiate coaching career during COVID was a unique experience.
“We were one of the only teams in the Mountain East Conference that did not have an in-season COVID-19 pause,” said McCullough, who credited Brown’s leadership, the hard work of the coaching staff, and the dedication of the players for that achievement.
“Despite all of the COVID protocols and challenges, we were able to make tremendous improvements throughout the season,” added McCullough.
McCullough said it’s an honor to follow Dennis Gibson – who won 714 games in 35 seasons as head coach – with the Lakers.
“Coach Gibson – he’s the ultimate basketball coach,” said McCullough. “His resume speaks for itself. I’m not trying to be his successor – I’m trying to be my own person and my own coach.”
McCullough said he will build upon the half-dozen returning players to create his first team.
“I’ll be spending a lot of time on the phone,” observed McCullough. “There are a lot of players out there looking for an opportunity and that’s exactly what we can provide.”
McCullough said he will be looking for players who will buy into his coaching philosophy.
“My goal is for all of our student athletes to make strides toward their ultimate goals,” said McCullough. “They need to focus on bigger goals they want to achieve after Garrett College, whether it’s transferring to a four-year university or preparing for work. If they’re working toward their basketball and non-basketball goals, winning will take care of itself.”
Both Bosley and Brown said McCullough is ready for on-court and off-court success.
“Although Matt’s young, he has a ton of coaching experience,” observed Brown. “He’s already dedicated quite a bit of his young life to mastering his craft.”
“He’s always prepared,” said Bosley. “He was great in scouting. It helps that he understands the game as well as he does. Transitioning to Garrett won’t be easy, but he’ll do whatever it takes – and he’ll do it faster than most.”