PORTSMOUTH — Following a historic week for the Shawnee State men’s basketball program, SSU head coach DeLano Thomas has been named as the HoopDirt.com NAIA Coach of the Week, presented by Just Play Solutions.
Thomas was bestowed with the award on Monday afternoon.
In winning the award, Thomas and Co. posted a fantastic week, with the fourth-year head coach leading Shawnee State to three huge Mid-South Conference victories over Thomas More (81-57) and Campbellsville (106-86), while pushing the Bears over No. 6 Georgetown (74-73).
Shawnee State snapped a five-game skid to Georgetown and posted its fourth victory in a row, along with its sixth win over the last seven games against Campbellsville.
In leading Shawnee State to those three victories, Thomas, who is 61-46 over his four-year career at SSU, led the 2020-21 group to a new program standard for most consecutive wins — with eight.
The 2020-21 group broke a tie with the 1989-90 squad, which was the only other team in program history to win at least seven in a row.
Along with leading Shawnee State to its most consecutive victories, Thomas — who also holds a win over No. 11 Cumberlands (Ky.) in his back pocket — has led SSU to a match of its best start in school history through 14 games.
The only other time that the Bears started 12-2 in a season was the first year of the program in four-year territory after transitioning from the junior college ranks (the 1988-89 season).
Over the course of the week, five players averaged in double figures, while six guys averaged at least 8.7 points per game or more:
James Jones — 17.3 points, 5.7 assists, four rebounds, 20-of-41 shooting (48.8-percent), game-winning assist against Georgetown
E.J. Onu — 13 points, eight rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 15-of-34 shooting (44.1-percent), game-winning three-point shot against Georgetown
Amier Gilmore — 10.3 points, eight rebounds, three assists, 12-of-24 shooting (50-percent)
Miles Thomas — 13.3 points, 13-of-26 shooting (50-percent), 9-of-13 three-point shooting (69.2-percent)
Issac Abergut — 12 points, 4.7 rebounds, 14-of-19 shooting (73.7-percent), 7-of-12 three-point shooting (58.3-percent)
Latavious Mitchell — 8.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 9-of-16 shooting (56.3-percent); 8-of-8 free-throw shooting (100-percent)
Thomas is 33-13 over his last 46 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2019-20 season.
His program is on track to improve for a fourth consecutive season since becoming the head coach.
The program earned its first-ever NAIA National Tournament berth last season — before the association’s tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Additionally, the program has won more conference player of the week awards this past season than in any other year in school history, claiming four already (three from Jones and one via Onu).
Onu also won the program’s first NAIA National Player of the Week honor since Tyler Morgan won the award on Jan. 10, 2011.
Onu took home the accolade this past December.
With the Week 7 HoopDirt.com NAIA Coach of the Week honor, Thomas is automatically entered into a list of nominees who are in contention for the NAIA National Coach of the Year Award at the end of the season by winning this week.
According to its website, HoopDirt.com is the largest website in the country dedicated specifically to college basketball coaching news, jobs, and rumors at all levels.
HoopDirt.com brings a unique insider perspective to the world of college basketball coaching — it was founded by college coaches as a way to help the college basketball community stay informed of what is going on in the coaching profession.
HoopDirt.com currently has a Twitter following of over 41,000, and receives nearly three-million page views per month.
The sponsor of the HoopDirt.com Coach of the Week Awards, Just Play Solutions, is the market leader in coaches’ workflow.
It serves as a platform to help coaches prepare playbooks, automate scouting reports, research analytics, integrate and distribute video, manage recruiting workflow, and organize recruiting schedules.
The end-to-end platform is used by over 700 customers across the country and internationally in football, basketball and lacrosse.
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club or for sponsorship of specific SSU players or events, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club and https://givetossu.com/sponsorthebears.