T.J. McAllister said he has always had the dream of being a varsity basketball coach. He has finally realized it as he is taking over one of the most storied programs in Cumberland County.
McAllister is the new varsity boys basketball coach at Terry Sanford High School. He steps in to replace departing coach Karl Molnar.
McAllister is a Fayetteville native but took a bit of a circuitous path to find his way to Fort Bragg Road.
A 2015 graduate of Jack Britt High School, McAllister played four years at Averett College in Virginia before returning to Fayetteville. He started his Fayetteville coaching career at E.E. Smith then came to Terry Sanford, where he coached cross country and junior varsity basketball. He’s still coaching cross country this season.
McAllister feels he’s got a built-in advantage taking over as varsity boys coach since most of the players who will be on this year’s varsity team have been playing junior varsity basketball with him for two seasons.
“I thought it would be fitting for me to go to the varsity level and continue to mold and make them better players, students, athletes,” he said.
He is aware of the rich tradition of success at Terry Sanford, dating back to the years of Franklin Clark, Vann Williford and back-to-back state titles, and zooming forward to 2015 when the Bulldogs earned their most recent championship under Bill Boyette.
McAllister hopes to get the current Bulldogs to accept what he calls a new culture and style.
“I want to see who’s going to buy in, who’s going to fit in and who’s actually going to take my leadership skills and qualities to take this program back to where it needs to be,” he said.
McAllister feels he already has an excellent rapport with the players in the program.
“I want to get the kids to understand that it’s more than basketball,” he said.
He thinks a foundation based on a family environment will help the Bulldogs be more successful.
As far as his on-the-court philosophy goes, McAllister wants to put players in a position where they are effective and useful, while avoiding putting them in situations that expose their weaknesses.
“Everybody is worried about winning,” McAllister said. “I would love to win state playoff games and make deep state championship runs. For me, it’s to establish a culture and get the kids to understand that it’s more than basketball. To make them not only better basketball players but better men.”
Follow Earl Vaughan Jr. on Twitter at @EarlVaughanJr.