SSU’s Thomas named Don Meyer COY

PORTSMOUTH — The accolades for fourth-year Shawnee State University men’s basketball head coach DeLano Thomas continue to roll in.

That’s because Thomas, the director of one of the greatest turnarounds at any level of basketball, obtained the 2021 Don Meyer Coach of the Year Award for his contributions to the NAIA game this past season.

In each of his four seasons, Thomas’ attitude and work ethic has led to the Bears improving their win-loss record in every season that the Columbus native has led the program.

Thomas’ vision has come to full fruition, with Shawnee State obtaining a 52-13 record over the 2018 SSU Hall of Famer’s past two seasons.

This year’s version of the Bears, after starting 4-2, won 27 straight games en route to sweeping all the team hardware — including the Mid-South Conference Regular Season Championship, the Mid-South Conference Tournament Championship and the NAIA National Championship trophies.

In addition to going 80-46 over the last four years, Thomas has coached three NAIA Division I All-Americans in just the past two seasons alone — with E.J. Onu earning the award twice.

Onu, along with standout guards James Jones and Kyree Elder — the latter of whom completed his eligibility in 2020 — have combined for six Mid-South Conference Player of the Week awards, an NAIA National Player of the Week honor, a Mid-South Conference Player of the Year honor and four mentions to the first-team all-MSC list in the last two seasons.

Fred Moore, Jayllen Carter, Justin Johnson, Miles Thomas and Amier Gilmore have also earned all-MSC honors under Thomas’ direction.

“What a job turned in by Delano Thomas,” said Joe Dwyer, President of “He returned to the place where he played and has taken the program to new heights. Coach Thomas is a rising star in the profession.”

Along with Thomas, the Shawnee State men’s basketball program has been aided by an impressive staff — which includes Lindal Yarbrough, Zack Kelly, Jack Trainer, D’Andre Price and Justin Patrick.

According to the press release put out by, The Don Meyer Award — which is presented annually to the top NAIA basketball coach — is named in honor of the one of the sport’s winningest coaches.

In 38 seasons at Hamline, Lipscomb and Northern State, he compiled an astounding 923-324 record.

He led Lipscomb to the NAIA National Championship in 1986 — and coached the two highest-scoring players in the history of college basketball, John Pierce and Philip Hutcheson.

Also, his 1989-90 team at Lipscomb won a record 41 games — and was the highest scoring team in college history.

In 2010, he received the John Bunn Award at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

He retired from coaching in February of that year.

Coach Meyer lost his long battle with cancer on May 18, 2014, at the age of 69.

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