SSU’s Thomas named HoopDirt NAIA 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 NAIA Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year — presented by Just Play Solutions.

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.

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.

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