Throughout his playing and coaching career, Shawn Hood has experienced more than his fair share of success on the basketball court. Fans in Cleveland are well aware of that after watching him help Cleveland State reach the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1986.
Hood is now bringing a blueprint for that success to the boys basketball program at Westlake.
The Westlake City School District officially hired the former Viking at a board of education meeting Monday night. He assumes the duties of head boys basketball coach, taking over for the departed Bob Patton, who is now the head coach at Solon.
In an exclusive interview with West Life, Hood presented his plans for the program. A prepared outline listed three main parts of his ‘vision” for the summer and beyond. Three main points were made:
- Development of people first, students and then basketball players.
- Comprehensive program that includes and involves all levels, from elementary to high school student athletes.
- A program that connects the Westlake Schools and the Westlake community.
“The first thing is I want to make sure our players are good people,” said Hood, who is a resident of Westlake and has been coaching in the area.
“We’ll start with that aspect right away,” Hood said. “I’ll pay attention to how they address people around here. For example, we have wonderful custodians and support people here in the building. I don’t think anything compares to the support you get here at Westlake High School.
“I want to make sure our players appreciate that and that they show that appreciation,” he added.
Hood, a member of the CSU Athletic Hall of Fame, explained why that part of the program was going to be so important to its overall success.
“I want to raise good people first. I want to raise good students second, and then raise them as basketball players,” Hood said. “That’s what I want to do right away. I think winning is a by-product of never sacrificing those intangibles.
“We will start the process of convincing our players that they are ambassadors of our program. If they want people in the seats, they have to treat people in such a way that people will be proud to come and see them. They need to understand that every single person they come in contact with is a potential fan. I hope that they’re going to act in such a way.
“On the court, I want to develop a style of basketball that will be fun for them first, and then, of course, fun for the fans to watch,” he added.
Hood was fun for fans to watch, going back to his days as a player at Don Bosco High School. He was a four-year letterman and is still the only player at that school to reach 1,000 career points by his junior season. His team won back-to-back state titles in 1982-83.
At Cleveland State, he was also a four-year letterman, leading the Vikings to the AMCU8 championship and their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Vikings advanced to the Sweet 16, giving David Robinson’s Navy team all it could handle before bowing out of the tourney. Hood served as a team captain that season, as well as his senior year in 1987.
His playing career over, Hood got into coaching and wound up being an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers, who had struggled for years in basketball, made the NIT in 1995 and the NCAA Tournament in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001. In 2000, Wisconsin advanced all the way to the Final Four.
Most recently, Hood has served as an assistant girls basketball coach at North Olmsted and coaches his daughter’s AAU team. He has also worked at several basketball camps in the area, making him a familiar sight at area courts.
“I’m very fortunate in that I have studied under some tremendous basketball coaches,” Hood said. “I’m talking about from my grade school coach, my high school coach and my AAU coaches to Kevin Mackey at Cleveland State, Stan VanGundy and Dick Bennett at Wisconsin.
“What I have done is adapted all that I have learned from each of them, because they’ve all given me something very valuable in terms of coaching and a system of play. I have used that as a head coach, as an associate head coach and as a varsity assistant and, most importantly, as the seventh grade girls basketball coach for my daughter’s AAU team,” he said with a smile.
Living and coaching in the area has allowed Hood to observe some the Demons’ games. He’s also seen some of the young up-and-coming players at camps and tournaments, he said.
“I am so excited about the talent level that is here,” Hood said. “I believe there is some wonderful, wonderful talent here at Westlake. Don’t get me wrong: We have to get better. Each and every one of them has to get better, but they have great talent, in my opinion.
“And to be able to coach basketball in the city that you love and live in is a dream come true,” Hood said. “I want to thank the board, as well as our superintendent, Dr. Dan Keenan, our principal, Tim Freeman, and our athletic director, Tony Cipollone for this opportunity.”