PORTSMOUTH — The men’s basketball program at Shawnee State University will bring back the coaching services of Jack Trainer and Justin Patrick for the 2021-22 season, and will be adding another key piece to the program this coming year — as Mark Brown, who was the top assistant under current Cumberland (Tenn.) head coach Jeremy Lewis, will be joining the Bears’ bench.
A former player at Shawnee State, Patrick served as one of two video coordinators for SSU in last season’s march to the NAIA National Championship — in n his first official season on staff.
Patrick, a graduate of Westland High School in Galloway, played at Shawnee State from 2005 to 2009 — and is currently one of 19 players to have surpassed the 1,000-point barrier at SSU.
Additionally, compared with all other players at Shawnee State, Patrick is in the top-30 in 10 other categories — — including 12th in field goals made, 13th in field goals attempted, eighth in free throws made, fifth in free throws attempted, sixth in blocked shots, 17th in games played, 11th in rebounds, 19th in rebounding average, 11th in defensive rebounds and eighth in offensive rebounds.
“It’s great to be a part of this program,” Patrick said. “Coming back to Shawnee State and being able to help out the staff and players is huge. It’s definitely an honor to be on the staff, and to come back as a player and help these guys out. They’re very knowledgeable about this sport, and I am glad that I have this opportunity to give back. Shawnee State taught me to see the game in a different perspective. With SSU playing the competition that it has since I’ve been here as a player and even before that, it trains you to think two or three steps ahead. Coaching-wise and watching film, you see things a different way after playing at the collegiate level too, so I believe that both experiences have been and are continuing to be very beneficial. We still have to improve every day and get better, but our main goal is to repeat as national champions.”
A constant figure on Shawnee State’s sideline over the past two seasons, the 2021-22 season will mark the third for Trainer inside the program.
In his first two seasons at SSU, Trainer’s knowledge and player-first relationships have been critical as the Bears went 21-11 in his first year with a NAIA Division I National Tournament bid, then improved greatly to 31-2 with the NAIA National Championship in the 2020-21 campaign — sweet revenge after that 2019-20 bid was wiped out due to COVID-19.
Over the course of Trainer’s career, he’s coached at over a dozen different stops as either a head coach or as an assistant coach — including Waverly High School, the University of Rio Grande, Peebles High School, Ohio University, Eastern Kentucky University, Youngstown State University, Miami University’s women’s, Owens Community College and Clay High School among others.
“These guys are really fun to work with and for,” Trainer said. “It’s a lot of fun everyday. It means a lot. It’s a long year, especially when you play late into March, but it’s still fun for me to work with young people. I’m so appreciative of Coach (DeLano) Thomas allowing me to be part of it. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s very meaningful work. He, Coach Lin (Lindal Yarbrough) and our entire group have done an excellent job of buying in. I believe the biggest key to our success is the fact that we enjoy being together. Last year, it never got old being in the gym. With a lot of teams, you’ll sense that three to four months in, guys are tired of it. These guys never got that way. They still enjoyed coming into practice, even on March 22. They still enjoyed being together and they still enjoyed each other’s company. A lot of that has had to do with the tone that our players and staff have set, and our staff and players have set. The expectation is that you will be something bigger than yourself.”
Coming from the top assistant seat at Cumberland (Tenn.), Brown will enter his first season at Shawnee State with a wealth of experience, much like former Cumberland (Tenn.) staffer and associate head coach Lindal Yarbrough did when he joined the SSU men’s program in 2019.
Brown coached at Cumberland for the past three seasons.
Brown, who started his high school career at Hunter’s Lane High School before transferring to Station Camp High School in Gallatin, Tenn. — also the alma mater of former Vanderbilt standout and Atlanta Hawks draft pick John Jenkins — averaged 14.5 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per contest on 50-percent shooting and 40-percent from three-point range as a senior.
According to the Cumberland (Tenn.) website, the Nashville (Tenn.) native started his collegiate career at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn.
He played in 29 of the team’s 32 games as a freshman, averaging 4.6 points in 12 minutes per game.
His sophomore season with the Lions saw his role increased, as he started 12 games and saw action in all 33.
He scored 256 points — and averaged 7.8 per game, 2.7 boards per game, and 1.7 assists.
After two seasons at FHU, Brown transferred to Shorter University for a short stint — before closing out his college career at Cumberland.
He started all 30 games for the Phoenix — averaging 13.5 points per game while shooting 42.7-percent from the field and 38.2-percent from three.
He ranked 21st in the NAIA in total three-point field goals made with 83.
“I’d like to tip my hat to Shawnee State,” Brown said. “From competing against them the past three years, it was a blessing to able to see the growth of that program, and considering the amazing things they did last year, it was great to split our regular season meetings. To join forces with them is something that I couldn’t be more grateful for. Coach (Lindal) Yarbrough was more than a coach to me when I played at Cumberland. He saved my life, both on and off the floor. He was like the big brother that I never had. I respected him as a coach and spent a lot of time at his crib, shooting, watching and talking a lot about basketball. He opened my eyes further to the game of basketball, and gave me the confidence that I could, one day, be in his shoes. I owe a lot to him.”