By Nick Nahas

The Bloomingdale Bulls basketball program is in for some full sail changes this upcoming season. Bloomingdale hired Newsome assistant coach Jeff Shotwell as their head coach on April 7 after eight-year head coach Joe Willis took the head coaching gig at Plant High School. “At Bloomingdale, we look for coaches that understand the importance of three components: being an outstanding student-athlete, having great sportsmanship and being a true competitor,” said Donny Peak, Bloomingdale Athletic Director. “Coach Shotwell’s vision fits the direction of Bloomingdale High School.”  

Back when he was in college at USF, Shotwell majored in Sports Medicine and was an assistant athletic trainer for the men’s basketball team. He later developed a passion for basketball and decided that he wanted to get into education and coaching. The USF head women’s basketball coach at the time, Trudi Lacey, offered him a coaching internship. Shotwell became a student manager with the team and later decided that he wanted to pursue coaching as a career. He is now in his 21st season coaching basketball in Hillsborough County.

Shotwell’s first coaching gig was in 1997 as an assistant girls’ basketball coach at East Bay High School. He later went to Riverview High School as an assistant coach when the school first opened. A year later in 1999-2000, he earned his first head coaching job as the Durant women’s basketball head coach. Shotwell jokes that, at 25, he was way too young to be a head coach at the time. He coached that team for four years, and in his last season they went 26-4 and made it to the regional finals. Shotwell then became the head coach at Plant City, but later returned to Durant as the head men’s basketball coach, where he coached from 2004-2009.

For the last seven years, Shotwell has been an assistant coach for Newsome under head coach Barry Jacobs, who was an assistant at Riverview with Shotwell back in 1997. Shotwell wants to take what he learned at Newsome and apply it to Bloomingdale. He wants to incorporate a more deliberate, patient and mentally tough playing style with an emphasis on not turning the ball over, sharing the ball and passing it several times a possession, and playing great, hard-nosed, man-to-man defense.
The Bulls will return two senior guards that started last season, Connor Moran and Mikey Kusz.
Along with a foreign exchange student from Italy, Edoardo Fadda and senior forward, Paul Dobler, the Bulls look like a team that can compete for a district title. “I’m expecting to win districts,” said Connor Moran. “We are the most underrated team in the county and we can beat every team in our district.”

According to Shotwell, the players will have to make some adjustments for this different style of play. The Bulls have 22 games that were played in the summer and fall under their belt. Tryouts are on Tuesday, November 7, and the regular season will start on Friday, December 1 at rival Newsome.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.