Portsmouth, Ohio – Shawnee State Athletics is pleased to announce Delano Thomas as the fifth head coach in Shawnee State men's basketball history, beginning with the 2017-18 season.
In a corresponding announcement, Jeff Hamilton will step down as head coach at the end of the 2016-17 season as part of Shawnee State's athletic expansion program. Hamilton will remain at SSU as the director of athletics.
Thomas has been the assistant coach with the Bears for the past three seasons, beginning with the 2014-15 campaign. He has been in charge of Shawnee State's player development program, recruiting, fundraising, and other team-related activities.
"I'm thankful for the opportunity, and excited to be the head coach of my alma mater," Delano said. "My goal is to impact people's lives through the game of basketball."
Prior to returning to Shawnee State, Thomas was a player and coach overseas. His most recent stop was as Head Coach of the under-18 boys, under-15 boys and under-15 girls at Ulriken Ung Club, located in Bergen, Norway from 2012-2014. Thomas was also an assistant coach for the Norwegian under-16 Boys National Team in 2014. Thomas led the Ulriken Ung girls to a second place finish in the Bergen Region and a silver medal in the Hansa Cup, with the boys under-15 team taking a bronze medal in the competition. He had two other stints at Ulriken Ung, one has head coach of the under-18 boys from 2008-09, and as the under-12 boys and girls coach from 2004-06.
Prior to that, Thomas was an under-18 boys assistant for Club Academica Coimbra in Portugal from 2011-12, and was a co-owner and head coach of the Dreams Hoop Elite AAU program from 2010-11. He also coached two seasons at Club Atenas in Montevideo, Uruguay; he was the under-16 boys head coach from 2006-07, and the under-18 boys coach from 2007-08.
Thomas was a standout player for Shawnee State from 2002-04. He was a second team All-American Mideast Conference selection in 2002-03, and followed that up in 2003-04 with one of the best seasons in program history. Thomas was a first team All-AMC selection and was named AMC Player of the Year for that season. He was additionally named a first team NAIA Division II All-American. Thomas averaged 15.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game that season, and averaged a career double-double at Shawnee State, averaging 13.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game over two seasons.
Thomas would go on to have a nine year overseas playing career. He would play for Norway's Ulriken Eagles in 2005, followed by a stop at Atenas in Uruguay in 2006. Delano would play for ETB Wohnbau from 2006-2007, and would return to Uruguay to play at Trouville from 2007-08. Thomas would return to Ulriken for the 2008-09 seasons, followed by a stint at Araraguara in Brazil from 2009-10. He would play at Al-Wathba in Syria in 2010, followed by a stop at Academica in Portugal from 2011-12, before finishing his playing career at Gimle in Norway from 2012-14.
Athletics Director Jeff Hamilton said, "Delano Thomas is the perfect candidate to lead the basketball program as Shawnee State. Not only does he know the history of this program but he has what it takes to lead our team to where it should be in the Mid-South Conference. His personality and work ethic make him an excellent recruiter and I have great confidence he will quickly establish his mark bringing in exception young men who will excel on the court."
Hamilton added, "Coach Thomas has the rare combination of being able to build great relationships and have special rapport with his players while also being able to hold them accountable and motivate them to be their best. I know he already has the respect in the locker room and that will continue to grow as he takes over the program. We are very fortunate to have him and I feel the transition will be a extremely smooth one. I am very excited to see him continue to develop as an outstanding mentor for our team and have the opportunity to run his own program."
Thomas graduated from Shawnee State with a Bachelor's of Individualized Studies in 2016.
You can catch Thomas and the Bears back in action on Tuesday, January 31st when they host old rivals Rio Grande at 8:00pm. Tuesday night's game has been designated as William Carey University Night, with all proceeds and donations accepted to help the NAIA member institution rebuild their campus after a devastating tornado on January 21st.