Gene Bartow followed John Wooden as UCLA’s basketball coach, had some success but lasted only a few seasons.
Paul Sunderland became the Lakers’ announcer after Chick Hearn but was replaced after a few years.
And now, at Santa Monica College, another man has learned how difficult it is to follow a legend.
Trevor Shickman, who became the Corsairs’ head men’s’ basketball coach three years ago following the retirement of Community College Hall of Fame honoree John McMullen, won’t have the job next season.
Shickman will continue with teaching duties at the school where he has been a part-time employee.
“We’re in the process of finding a head coach,” said SMC Athletic Director Dr. Rhonda Hyatt. “It’s a mutual decision. Trevor can pursue other opportunities and we’re going in a different direction.”
A call to Shickman resulted a message saying “contact Rhonda Hyatt about the SMC basketball program.”
Shickman, who played at University High, was an assistant to McMullen prior to becoming head coach.
McMullen was not only a winner of more than 500 games in 24 seasons, he was a full-time employee of the school. Budget cuts have removed the position from full-time status although SMC women’s’ head coach Lydia Strong is full-time.
The new men’s’ head coach will be part-time, like Shickman.
“It’s something applicants will have to accept,” said Hyatt. “No doubt it makes the job more difficult. Coach McMullen earned tremendous respect when he coached but he also had the advantage of being on campus all day.”
When an opening now occurs in the athletic department it isn’t necessarily filled in athletics or at all.
McMullen’s position and the one vacated when legendary track coach Tommie Smith retired last year have not gone to new coaches.
In this environment Shickman did what he could but had some tough luck. Following a 14-14 season when 6-foot-9 center Shakir Johnson was making progress Johnson became ineligible for the past season.
Although Shickman had recruited 6-1 Noah Gottlieb, who became an all-Western State Conference point guard, the Corsairs struggled through a 12-15 season and again didn’t qualify for the state playoffs.
Johnson, a late-developing youngster who had played only a couple of years at LA Dorsey High, ran the court well, was a shot blocker and was averaging nine points per game until late in his freshman season when Shickman told the team that Johnson needed to get the ball more often.
Johnson averaged 15 points the rest of the way and was being eyed by mid-major Division 1 programs. Another year of getting experience at SMC would have benefited him and Shickman’s program.
Had Johnson continued to develop and then received a college scholarship he would have been an example to high school players of the benefit of playing for Shickman at SMC.
Instead, Johnson attended SMC last season without playing and his plans for next season are uncertain.
Without him, and without an influential big man, Shickman fielded a small but scrappy team that had its moments, like some early season tournament success. But the team had injuries and was no match for Bakersfield, Citrus and some other conference powers.
McMullen teaches at SMC and attends games. He puts together an annual alumni game and has served as a commentator on cable telecasts of Corsair games.
Hyatt did not indicate a timetable for selecting a new coach. Valuable time is being lost now in recruiting.
Until a new coach arrives it is unknown if Gottlieb will return. He has a year of community college eligibility remaining but has attracted Division 1 attention. Arthur Braswell, a 6-4 freshman who made all-conference honorable mention, similarly has a year of community college eligibility remaining if he chooses to return.