By Will Sahlie
AUBURN, Ala. - Frankie Sullivan won five state championships in high school, starring for R.C. Hatch beginning in seventh grade.
In his final high school game, Sullivan scored 51 points leading Hatch to its state-record 10th title.
After his historic prep career, Sullivan signed with Auburn, creating a lasting legacy on the Plains.
The Uniontown, Ala. native left Auburn with his name all over the record books. He finished eighth all-time in Auburn history in scoring (1,556 points), first in games played (134), first in three-point attempts (713), fourth in steals (190), fourth in three-pointers made (228), fifth in free throw made (334), seventh in free throws attempted (431) and ninth in field goals attempted (1,268).
After playing overseas for three years, Sullivan returned to Auburn as a graduate assistant. Now, he works fulltime as a video coordinator for head coach Bruce Pearl.
“After a couple of years, it’s typically time for that player in that role to move on,” Pearl said. “We were fortunate to have some movement on our staff this year, and it was time for Frankie to be a full-time something, whether here at Auburn or elsewhere.
“He loves Auburn so much. He has worked so hard, like all of us, to build this thing. He really didn’t want to leave yet. He wanted to see this thing through. I was glad to have a position for him.”
Sullivan said he never imagined himself on the basketball staff at Auburn.
“I honestly thought I was going to be playing for a long time,” Sullivan said. “I got overseas, and I didn’t really like it. I’m a family guy. I love basketball, but I just didn’t like being away from my family so much.
“I took the opportunity to just get into coaching, especially at my alma mater. It’s been really cool just getting an opportunity to coach here. Now that he has hired me as video coordinator, it’s really just a sweet moment for me. I’m still trying to let it all sink in.”
Along with being Pearl’s video coordinator, Sullivan has been a role model for Auburn’s players.
“With my experience with being on campus, that’s one of my biggest roles that Coach Pearl tries to preach to me,” Sullivan said. “Get the guys to talk to their professors, understanding that’s a big deal when you’re in class. Being on time and being on target with what you’re doing, to act the right way. To be working here and get a chance to be with the players, it’s a blessing.”
“I brought him on as a GA because of who he was and what he did during his time at Auburn,” Pearl said. “He grew as a young man. He competed, he was a warrior. It was also the way he went about it.
“The things Dr. Gary Waters in academics would say about Frankie and how he worked as a student. I wanted that young man to be on my staff to be around my other young men.”
As Sullivan continues to transition from star player at Auburn to basketball staff member, the off-the-court feeling on the Plains is what means the most to him.
“I had some great moments on the court, like beating Alabama my freshman year with a game-winning shot,” Sullivan said. “But off the court, getting to know the Auburn people, embracing the Auburn way and Auburn Family is really what kept me around the whole time.
“As a player, I have no regrets about coming to Auburn. I love it. I love the people here. It’s been like home, and I hope it is home for a long time for me.”