Shelby County names West Blocton’s Chase Cornelius as head boys basketball coach

Published 7:24 pm Friday, June 21, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA – Shelby County didn’t have to look too far outside the Birmingham metro area for the next leader of its boys basketball team as it has now secured Chase Cornelius as its new head coach.

Shelby County High School officially named Cornelius as its new head varsity boys basketball coach after he was confirmed by the Shelby County Board of Education on Thursday, June 20.

Cornelius was introduced to the community at a special meet-and-greet event at the Shelby County High School library on Friday, June 21.

“I’m very excited,” Cornelius said. “Very humbled, really honored just to have the opportunity to be at a place that’s had a legacy like Shelby County and excited to see what we can do in the future with these young men.

He joins the Wildcats after a successful three seasons as West Blocton’s head boys basketball coach. During that time, the Tigers earned a runner-up finish in Class 4A, Area 6 and earned the most top 10 wins in school history.

In his nine-season head coaching career, he has gone 132-89 overall with stops at Gardendale, Tarrant and Banks Academy with success at each stop. At Banks, he won an ACAA state championship in 2018 and finished runner-up in 2020.

Throughout his 13 seasons as a coach, he has earned a reputation for building up and turning around programs while developing athletes for the next level, and he will look to use those traits with Shelby County.

Before his coaching career, Cornelius played basketball and football at Mountain Brook, earning a Class 6A All-State Honorable Mention and All-Metro honors. He also notably played AAU basketball with former Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

Afterwards, he played college basketball at Coastal Alabama Community College and the University of Montevallo before finishing his degree at UAB.

Cornelius already has ties to the county as his wife Kindall Cornelius is a teacher at Helena High School and an adjunct professor at Jefferson State and Coastal Community College.

He is also familiar with the school from his coaching career and views SCHS highly with the support that Shelby County Schools and the community gives the program.

“I’ve had the opportunity to coach against Shelby County,” Cornelius said. “I’ve had some buddies of mine play here. The school system originally is fantastic. Dr. (Lewis) Brooks does a great job running the county system. Mr. (Kyle) Dudley was a really great hire for this school. The support from what I’ve gotten so far really kind of intrigued me more about this job than others, and so I think that this place could be a real success story as long as everyone puts in the work.

During his time with parents and players, Cornelius said that he will bring an up-tempo playstyle to the Wildcats that reflects a high-energy atmosphere at practice.

He also stressed the importance of hard work and dedication to the program. He believes the players at Shelby County have a high potential, and he wants to help maximize their potential through collective buy-in, a player-led culture and accountability from the top down.

Cornelius wants Shelby County to punch above its weight and isn’t afraid to take on challenges to grow the program. He beat Class 7A opponents at West Blocton and challenged successful Class 6A programs for wins, and he wants to push the Wildcats in that direction as well.

“Hard work is the biggest thing,” Cornelius said. “We want to be successful on and off the court. That means in the classroom, that means in the city, and we want to make sure that we’re fearless. That’s the biggest thing. I know we’re only a 5A, but we’re not going to be scared to play anybody, 7A or what. And so, I want to make sure when we step on that court, the name Shelby County is feared as well as intrigued.

In addition to coaching basketball, Cornelius will join Zeb Ellison’s staff as an assistant football coach for the upcoming season.

Cornelius will retain assistant coach William McGehee and told parents and players at the meet-and-greet that he is in the process of bringing on two additional assistant coaches, both state champions with one having SEC experience.

Cornelius’ staff will hold open tryouts for any players who did not make the initial roster on Monday, June 24 from 1-3 p.m. at Shelby County High School.