Jeff Hamilton enters his 13th season as the head men's basketball coach and sixth as the Athletic Director at Shawnee State University during the 2014-15 season. As the Athletic Director, the Bears have sent seven of their 13 varsity programs to compete at the NAIA Championships under Hamilton’s tenure.
As a member of the NAIA’s Champions of Character Initiative, 16 different individuals have been named the Mid-South Conference Champions of Character recipients in their respective sports. For Hamilton’s squad, the men’s basketball team has had an individual win this honor in each of the first four seasons that the Bears have been a member of the Mid-South Conference.
As an athletic department, Shawnee State is recognized as a Five-Star Institution for Champions of Character. During the 2011-12 year, the Bears Champions of Character score was the highest amongst all Mid-South schools and the sixth-highest amongst all schools in the NAIA.
During the 2013-14 season, it was Trevor Banks that was named the MSC Champions of Character recipient of basketball. That season was also highlighted by his selection as a second-team All-MSC selection. In total, Hamilton has coached 29 players to all-conference honors. The Bears are just two years removed from their most successful campaign since the 2006-07 season when they also won 16 games. Their 11 conference wins this past season tied for the most since the 2003-04 season under Hamilton.
Throughout his coaching career, Hamilton has consistently scheduled a tough non-conference slate to prepare his team for the conference schedule. During his tenure, the Bears have played the likes of Boston College, Florida State University, Texas Christian University, University of Detroit-Mercy and many other Division I opponents. Hamilton’s teams have continually risen to the challenge of playing top competition throughout the country. During the 2012-13 season, the Bears won three games against teams that were ranked in the top-25 at the time. Additionally, the Bears notched an overtime win over Georgetown College, who was receiving votes at the time before going on to win the NAIA National Championship later that season.
These victories last season just continued Shawnee State’s history of playing its best on the biggest stages as the Bears also beat then-No. 1 Pikeville during the 2011-12 season when Pikeville was the reigning NAIA Champion coming into that season. The upset win over Pikeville was just one instance of Hamilton's team playing its best in big games. In 2004-05, the Bears knocked off eventual National Champion Walsh twice during the regular season. In the 2008-09 season, Hamilton and the Bears went into then-No. 1 ranked Cedarville and took down the Yellow Jackets on their home floor. With a young squad during the 2010-11 season, his team made national headlines as it knocked off second-ranked Georgetown College, with then-sophomore Tyler Morgan garnering National Player of the Week honors.
Hamilton joined the SSU staff in the summer of 2001 as an assistant coach under Geno Ford. He took over the program the following year and guided the Bears to a 22-10 record and to the AMC Championship Game. Hamilton has been coaching basketball since his graduation in 1996 from the College of Wooster. He has made coaching stops at Illinois College and Ohio University where he was on Larry Hunter's staff for two seasons.
Hamilton has been instrumental in transitioning Shawnee State into the Mid-South Conference and into the Division I ranks at the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year. The upcoming season will be the Bears’ fifth season as a member of the Mid-South Conference competing at the NAIA Division I level. At various times along the way, he has also coached golf, soccer, tennis and served as director of intramurals.
The Worthington, Ohio native holds a bachelor's degree from the College of Wooster and a master's degree from Ohio University. As a point guard at Wooster, Hamilton helped guide the Scots to three national tournament appearances and a 91-21 record. He currently resides in Portsmouth with his wife, Rhonda. They have two children, Luke and Margaret.
Entering his first season as an assistant coach for the Shawnee State men’s basketball team, Delano Thomas brings a wealth of basketball experience, not only as a coach, but also as one of the most prolific players in Shawnee State history.
Thomas played for the Bears from 2002-2004, and ranks among the top of several categories in the program. A First Team NAIA All-American during the 2003-04 campaign, Thomas ranks first in the program in blocked shots (148), first in rebounds per game average (11.5), 14th in scoring average per game (13.6) and 14th in assists per game (2.1).
A Columbus, Ohio, native, Thomas propelled his successful college campaign into a professional career spanning nine years and six countries across South America, Asia and Europe. In 2008-09, he was part of a Norwegian squad that won the BLNO Championship in Norway’s top professional basketball league. Thomas has also spent seasons in Portugal, Syria, Brazil, Uruguay and Germany.
During his time overseas, Thomas also gained valuable coaching experience. In 2007, he was the head coach of Montevideo High School in Uruguay where he led the squad to a 22-10 record. The following year, he was the head coach of Ulriken Elite in Norway for the U21, U18, and U14 boys, as well as the U14 girls’ squad.
From 2012-14, Thomas was the head coach for the U15 boys and girls of Ulriken Ung., in Norway. During his time there, he led the girls’ squad to a second place finish in the Bergen Region and a silver medal in the Hansa Cup. The boys side finished as the bronze medalists.
Thomas also has a plethora of work experience across the globe under the basketball umbrella. In 2010, he worked for the After-School All-Stars as the Administer of Sports Development in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was responsible for using athletics to relate to everyday life-skills. In 2014, he was the Activity Consultant for the Norges Basketballforbund in Oslo, Norway. Here, Thomas was tasked with recruiting young athletes from schools, organizing clinics and educating new coaches with practice plans.
Thomas attended high school at Beechcroft High School in Columbus, and attended Clark State Community College for two years before concluding his final two years of college basketball at Shawnee State. He holds an Associate’s Degree from SSU, and is currently working to finish his Bachelor’s Degree in Individualized Studies.