This past basketball season, the Lookout Valley Yellow Jackets quietly turned in an 18-win campaign and captured the District 4-A regular season championship, all while being led by a 5-foot-11 guard that played much bigger than his size.
Which leads Georgia Northwestern head basketball coach David Stephenson to believe that he is getting a huge steal in senior Larry McCullough.
McCullough became the newest Bobcat last Tuesday after signing his letter of intent in front of friends, family and teammates at the small, basketball-loving Chattanooga-area high school.
“Being here at Lookout Valley, he wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar,” Stephenson said.
“He didn’t get a lot of exposure, so we’re very fortunate. He is really good friends with Justin Smith, who played for us this past season. Justin had been working him hard to see if he be interested in coming to play for us.
“I think that with the things he can do, especially defensively, he’s just going to blend right in with the other guys that we have that can play defense because we want to do a lot more pressing and a lot more full-court trapping and things of that nature with this group that we have coming in.”
McCullough called it “an amazing opportunity”.
“I’ve always dreamed of it and now it’s coming to reality,” he explained. “It just brings a smile to my face and a joy to my life.”
McCullough has played basketball since the age of nine, but said he never got truly serious about the sport until his freshman year of high school.
He played for Coach Eric Ford for a couple of seasons at Lookout Valley Middle School and played for the Jackets as a freshman. He returned to the school as a senior to play his final year for the Black-and-Gold.
Despite only two years in the valley, McCullough leaves with 241 steals, the fourth-most in program history. He averaged 4.4 steals a game this past season, while also averaging 12.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
“They are getting an excellent player,” Ford said. “I’m very proud of how hard he’s worked so far to get to this point. I had him as a sixth and seventh grader and he had little spots of greatness here and there. You could see he had a lot of potential and he put in the work to make it happen.”
Ford said that while McCullough can do a number of things on the court, it was his “superb” defense that set him apart and was the catalyst for a lot of other things.
“He reacts well to the ball and he always seems to know where the next pass is going to be,” Ford added. “He’s always been good at collecting steals when other kids thought they were going to have an easy pass. His best offense is his defense. He scored a lot of lay-ups this year coming off of steals from the top of the zone and he doesn’t turn the ball over. That’s really what helped us this year.
“He’s our first basketball signee in many years and hopefully we’ll have more to come. We’re very proud of him.”
McCullough said he thinks Georgia Northwestern will be a good option for him.
“I feel like it’s a very good program that fits me and my style of play and I think I can bring a lot to the team,” he continued. “I’m a team player, but I’m also a leader. I like getting everybody involved and getting everybody into the game.”
McCullough plans to study business management and would also one day like to become a barber.