Leonard Hamilton's incredible list of accomplishments at Florida State University has solidified him as one of the top coaches of the last 40 years in college basketball.
He has put together nine 20-win seasons in the last 13 years, taken nine of his 11 teams at Florida State to the postseason and cemented the Seminoles as the third winningest program in the ACC since the start of the 2005-06 season. He is poised to become the Seminoles' all-time winningest coach and enters the 2013-14 season ranked 12th in the illustrious history of the ACC in career victories.
Hamilton has earned three National Coach of the Year awards, two Atlantic Coach Conference Coach of the Year awards, two Big East Coach of the Year awards, led his teams to seven NCAA Tournament appearances and 16 postseason appearances, to the 2012 ACC Championship and to the 1978 National Championship (as an assistant coach at Kentucky). He is the only person to earn Coach of the Year honors in both the ACC and the Big East.
Hamilton led the Seminoles to the first ACC basketball championship in school history in 2012 (a feat that was thought to be unthinkable before Hamilton's arrival in Tallahassee), is among the leaders in the ACC and the nation in recruiting and coaching NBA talent, has made appearing in the NCAA an expected part of the Seminoles' schedule each season and made the program one of the tougher teams to prepare for on a nightly basis.
In 2012, Hamilton led the Seminoles to their school record fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, to a school record tying 12-4 record in ACC play, to a third consecutive third place finish in the ACC standings, to two wins each over Duke and North Carolina (two of the top four winningest programs in college basketball history), to wins over an ACC-leading six nationally ranked teams and to victories over each of the four Tobacco Road teams in the ACC (Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest) for the first time in school history. While finishing the season in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season, the Seminoles were ranked No. 10 in the final Associated Press poll and No. 15 in the final ESPN/USA Today poll.
Hamilton was named the 2012 ACC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career as the Seminoles solidified their position as one of the top teams in the ACC. Since the start of the 2005-06 season (the last eight years) the Seminoles rank third in the ACC in overall wins (174), third in the ACC in regular season wins (75) and ACC regular season and ACC Tournament wins (83). The Seminoles have won at least 22 games and at least 10 ACC regular season games in four of the last five seasons. With their 3-0 record in the 2012 ACC Tournament, the Seminoles won a single season school record 15 ACC games. With early season wins over No. 4 North Carolina and No. 6 Duke to begin the ACC 2012 schedule, the Seminoles spent the majority of the conference season in first place in the ACC standings.
"Leonard Hamilton has done a brilliant job at Florida State," said the Duke Basketball Report following the Seminoles' run to the ACC Championship in 2012.
As the ACC's second-longest tenured coach behind only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Hamilton continues to climb the all-time win charts in the storied histories of both Florida State and the ACC. He is Florida State's all-time coaching leader with 89 ACC wins, the Seminoles' all-time leader in ACC Tournament wins and is third all-time in school history in wins in NCAA Tournament play. Hamilton is the 12th winningest coach in ACC history entering the 2013-14 season. Hamilton was the Washington Wizards' head coach in 2001 and the head coach at the University of Miami (1991-2000) and at Oklahoma State University (1987-90) before he was named the seventh head coach in Florida State men's basketball history on March 19, 2002.
On March 11, 2012, Hamilton led Florida State to the first ACC Championship in school history. The Seminoles defeated No. 6 ranked Duke, 62-59, in the semifinals and No. 4 ranked North Carolina in the title game to win the championship. It marked only the third time in ACC Tournament history a team had defeated Duke and North Carolina in the semifinals and final game to win the championship and marked only the sixth time in ACC history that a team beat the No. 2 and No. 1 seeds in the semifinals and final game to win the championship.
In a 2012 Athlon Sports ranking of the ACC's top coaches, Hamilton was an easy choice to place third among the 12 coaches in the nation's most prestigious league. Said Athlon's editors: "Leading one of the stingiest defensive teams in the country, Hamilton has coached Florida State to one of the best four-year runs at Florida State. For the first time in program history, the Seminoles won at least 20 games and at least 10 ACC games in four consecutive seasons. A one-point loss in overtime to VCU in 2011 prevented the Seminoles from reaching the Elite Eight. In 2012, the Seminoles became only the second team not named Duke or North Carolina to win the ACC Tournament since 1996. Hamilton has proven himself capable of building consistent basketball programs at football schools by leading Miami to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances to wrap up his 10-season tenure with the Hurricanes in 2000. The coaches were ranked on a mix of past accomplishments with consideration for career trajectory over the next five seasons or so. Rankings take Xs and Os acumen and recruiting prowess into account along with success in the regular season and postseason."
More important in Leonard Hamilton's eyes than the championships, the NCAA Tournament appearances and the wins, was that overwhelming success came in the classroom: each member of the Seminoles' class of 2013 received degrees from Florida State meaning each of the last nine players in the last two seasons have earned either a bachelor's or Master's degree from Florida State. In 2013, senior All-American Michael Snaer along with Joey Moreau and Rafael Portuondo earned their degrees in just four years. In 2012, two players - Luke Loucks and Jeff Peterson - earned Master's degrees while four players - Deividas Dulkys, Xavier Gibson, Bernard James and Jon Kreft - all earned their bachelor's degrees. With a graduation rate of more than 90 percent for his career, Hamilton continues to prove that success in the classroom can certainly coincide with success on the court in college basketball.
Hamilton is the first coach to lead Florida State to eight consecutive postseason appearances as the Seminoles have participated in the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 NCAA Tournaments and played in the NIT in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and 2013. Hamilton has guided nine of his first 11 Seminole teams into postseason play including a school record eight straight since the Seminoles played in the 2006 NIT.
Under Hamilton, Florida State has developed and lived up to its reputation as the nation's best defensive team.
Florida State is the only team in the country to rank in the top 10 in the nation in field goal percentage defense in four of the last five seasons with its .363 field goal percentage defense in 2011 ranking as the fifth best mark in NCAA history. The Seminoles led the NCAA in field goal percentage defense in both 2010 and 2011 in becoming one of only six teams in NCAA history to lead the nation in field goal percentage defense in consecutive seasons. The Seminoles' .363 field goal percentage mark in 2011 was the best in the ACC since 1960 (a span of 52 years). Florida State has led the ACC in field goal percentage defense in four of the last five years with its streak of four consecutive years (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012) - ranking as a league record - and played in the NCAA tournament in a school record four consecutive seasons from 2009-12. Florida State led the ACC in blocked shots and steals in 2012 in becoming only the fourth team in history to lead the ACC in both blocked shots and steals in the same season.
The Seminoles have ranked in the nation's top 11 in both the field goal percentage defense and blocked shots categories in four of the last five seasons and have led the ACC in blocked shots in each of the last four seasons.
The Seminoles have also earned great success against ranked teams under Hamilton. The Seminoles defeated No. 1 ranked Duke in Tallahassee on Jan. 12, 2011 to mark the third time under Hamilton that Florida State has defeated the nation's top ranked team. In guiding Florida State to its 66-61 victory over No. 1 ranked Duke in 2011, Hamilton continued to put himself in a very select company as one of the nation's top coaches. He is currently tied for the national lead among coaches with the most victories over the No. 1 ranked team in the nation since the start of the 2003-04 season. Hamilton has guided Florida State to wins over No. 1 ranked Duke twice (Jan. 12, 2011 and March 1, 2006), as well as No. 1 North Carolina on March 14, 2009, in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament).
Under Hamilton's watch, Florida State has defeated 27 nationally ranked teams during his first 11 years in Tallahassee. Included in those wins are six victories over nationally ranked Duke teams. With two victories over nationally ranked Duke, North Carolina and Virginia teams in 2012, the Seminoles led the ACC with six victories over nationally ranked teams in winning Florida State's first ever ACC Championship.
As he continues to build his program into one of the nation's best, Hamilton annually attracts the nation's top talent to Tallahassee and helps those players reach their goals of not only playing at the next level, but of excelling academically and earning their degrees.
At Florida State, Hamilton has recruited and coached three of the Seminoles' four all-time All-ACC First Team selections in Tim Pickett (2004), Al Thornton (2007) and Toney Douglas (2009) as well as the only two players in school history to earn ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors (Toney Douglas in 2009 and Chris Singleton in 2010 and 2011). Hamilton has coached 13 All-ACC selections in his first 11 seasons (only 15 Seminole players had earned All-ACC honors in Florida State's first 11 years in the ACC), 10 selections to the ACC All-Defensive Team, three members of the ACC All-Rookie Team and five members of the All-ACC Tournament team. Following Florida State's victory over North Carolina in the 2012 ACC Tournament Championship game, Michael Snaer was named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament (a first in Seminole basketball history) while Snaer and Luke Loucks were named to the All-Tournament First-Team.
Hamilton has also coached two All-Americans at Florida State - Al Thornton in 2007 and Toney Douglas in 2009. Thornton and Douglas were both All-American Third-Team and All-ACC First-Team selections during their Seminoles careers.
With nine NBA Draft selections under Hamilton since 2004, the Seminoles are ranked third in the ACC for the most draft picks. Three Seminoles have been selected in the first round (Al Thornton in 2007, Toney Douglas in 2009 and Chris Singleton in 2011) and one (Thornton) was only the second Draft Lottery selection in school history and the third highest overall pick in school history. Only North Carolina (16) and Duke (12) have more NBA Draft picks since 2004 than Hamilton and Florida State among the current 14 ACC Teams.
Hamilton was at the 2007 NBA Draft to watch as Al Thornton became only the second Draft Lottery selection in school history as he was picked with the 14th overall selection by the Los Angeles Clippers. He was with 2009 NBA First Round selection Toney Douglas when his name was called by the Los Angeles Lakers. Hamilton watched as Solomon Alabi and Ryan Reid were selected in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft and reveled when Chris Singleton became the first round pick of the Washington Wizards in 2011.
Hamilton watched with great pride as All-ACC selection Bernard James was selected in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. James arrived at Florida State in 2010 after serving in the United States Air Force during three tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar and only two years of junior college basketball at Tallahassee Community College and left after two years with his bachelor's degree in social science and an ACC Championship to begin his professional career with the Dallas Mavericks.
Florida State has had at least one player selected in eight of the last nine NBA Drafts.
Florida State is the only team in the ACC with at least one player selected in the NBA Draft in four of the last five years. The Seminoles have been represented in the last four NBA Drafts by Bernard James (2012 by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded on draft night to the Dallas Mavericks), Chris Singleton (2011 by the Washington Wizards), Solomon Alabi (2010 by Dallas and traded on draft night to Toronto), Ryan Reid (2010 by Indiana) and Toney Douglas (2009 by the Los Angeles Lakers and traded on draft night to the New York Knicks).
The Seminoles are one of only five schools in the nation (also Connecticut, Kentucky, Ohio State and Washington) who has had at least one player picked in four of the last five drafts (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012).
Florida State is one of only three teams in the ACC with at least nine players selected in the last eight NBA Drafts. Only North Carolina (with 17 selections) and Duke (with 14 selections) have more NBA Draft picks since 2004 than Florida State among the current 12 ACC teams.
Hamilton came to Florida State after 10 seasons at the University of Miami.
In his final season at Miami, Hamilton guided the Hurricanes to their second straight 20-win season, a share of the Big East regular season championship and the school's first trip to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Hurricanes finished 23-11, including a 13-3 conference record, and were ranked 23rd in the nation in the final Associated Press poll and 20th in the final USA Today/ESPN poll.
Under Hamilton's leadership, Miami became one of the nation's top programs, advancing to postseason play five times in his final six seasons with three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Miami's winning records in his final six seasons meant the Hurricanes joined Syracuse and Connecticut as the only Big East schools to have an overall winning record from 1995-2000. The Hurricanes' 48-22 Big East mark over his last four seasons tied Connecticut for the best conference record over that period. Over his last two seasons, Miami registered a league-best 28-6 conference record for an .824 winning percentage.
In his final season at Miami, Hamilton's Hurricanes recorded three wins over ranked teams including a 74-70 home win over No. 18 St. John's, marking the sixth straight season Miami had defeated a ranked opponent in the Miami Arena. In the 40 seasons prior to Hamilton's arrival, the Hurricanes reached the postseason just four times including one NCAA tournament appearance (1960).
Along with the rise of the Hurricanes' program, Hamilton's players also continued to develop and win individual awards. In 2000, guard Johnny Hemsley earned All-Big East Second-Team honors while center Mario Bland earned All-Conference Third-Team honors. In 1999, Hemsley and forward Tim James earned All-Big East First-Team honors. The Hurricanes and Syracuse (twice), were the only schools to have two players earn All-Big East First-Team honors in the same season at least once during Hamilton's tenure at Miami. In ten seasons under Hamilton, the Hurricanes had 13 All-Conference selections.
In 1998-99, Tim James was named Big East Co-Player of the Year, along with Connecticut's Richard Hamilton, and Johnny Hemsley was selected as the league's Most Improved Player.
Miami's rise began in 1994-95 when Hamilton led the Hurricanes to the greatest single season turn-around in Big East history. Picked to finish at the bottom of the Big East Conference standings, Hamilton guided the Hurricanes to a fifth-place finish and a berth in the National Invitational Tournament - Miami's first postseason appearance in 31 years. The Hurricanes' nine-win conference win increase tied Louisiana Tech for the best in the nation. Miami's eight-win overall improvement tied for the third best single season increase in school history.
At the conclusion of the 1995 season, Hamilton was named the United Press International National Coach of the Year. He was also recognized as the Big East Coach of the Year for the first time. He was named Big East Coach of the Year for the second time in 1999 and was honored as the Eastern Basketball Coach of the Year. In 2000, he was named the Black Coaches Association (BCA) Coach of the Year.
For his work both on and off the court, Hamilton was honored as one of four finalists for the 2000 Coach Wooden "Keys to Life" Award. The award is given annually to a coach who best exemplifies Coach John Wooden's philosophy of emphasizing that impacting the life of a student is more significant than any winning percentage. He was named one of Tallahassee's Top 33 citizens in 2004 by the Tallahassee Democrat, inducted into the Gaston County (N.C.) Hall of Fame in 2007 and was honored by his hometown of Gastonia, N.C. in 2012 for his accomplishments during his career.
Hamilton was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. As one of the top players at the University of Tennessee-Martin during his playing career, Hamilton's roots run deep in the state of Tennessee. He served as a team captain during his career at UT Martin and received both the team's Most Valuable Player Award and the Best Defensive Player award his senior season and is a charter member of the school's Hall of Fame.
Hamilton's induction into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame marks the fifth Hall of Fame he will be a member of during his illustrious career. He is a member of the Austin Peay State University, University of Tennessee at Martin, University of Miami and Gaston County (NC) athletic Hall of Fames.
Hamilton went to Miami from Oklahoma State where he spent four years rebuilding the Cowboys' program. He led them to consecutive appearances in the NIT, the first back-to-back postseason appearances for OSU since the 1953 and 1954 seasons. While at Oklahoma State, he recruited and coached former Florida State assistant coach Corey Williams who was named the head coach at Stetson in June of 2013.
Prior to his tenure at Oklahoma State, Hamilton was on the staff at the University of Kentucky where he spent 12 seasons with one of the top programs in the country. From 1974-80, he served as an assistant coach, and in 1980 he was honored by being named the first associate head coach in Kentucky basketball history. During his 12 seasons at Kentucky, the Wildcats registered a 296-83 (.781) record, won eight SEC regular season championships, two SEC tournament titles, went to three Final Fours and won the national title in 1978.
Hamilton's coaching career began at Austin Peay State University where he served as a graduate assistant from 1971-73 and then as a full-time assistant from 1973-74. The Governors won back-to-back Ohio Valley Championships in Hamilton's last two seasons at the school. Hamilton recruited and coached James "Fly" Williams, the 1974 conference Player of the Year and two-time all-conference selection. Williams was a two-time consensus All-America in 1973 and 1974, the only two-time All-America in school history. The Governors won the OVC Championship and played in the NCAA Tournament in 1973.
He played at Gaston (N.C.) Community College where he set a school record by scoring 54 points in a game, and later at the University of Tennessee-Martin where he is a charter member of the school's Hall of Fame. At both schools, he served as a team captain. Additionally, while at Tennessee-Martin, Hamilton received both the team's Most Valuable Player Award and the Best Defensive Player award his senior season.
Hamilton's legacy extends across the nation as eight of his former assistant coaches have moved on to become head coaches at the Division I level. Included on the list are Corey Williams (Stetson), Tim Carter (South Carolina State), Andy Enfield (Florida Gulf Coast), Tony Sheals (Palm Beach (Fla.) Community College), Dwight Freeman (Norfolk State), Randy Lee (Maine Machias), Dickey Nutt (Arkansas State), John Phillips (Tulsa) and Bill Self (Kansas).
He earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Tennessee-Martin in 1971 and received a master's degree in physical and health education from Austin Peay State in 1973.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS • 2009 Basketball Times National Coach of the Year • 2000 BCA National Coach of the Year • 1995 United Press International National Coach of the Year • 1999 Eastern Basketball Coach of the Year • 2009 and 2012 ACC Coach of the Year • 1995 and 1999 Big East Coach of the Year • The only coach to win ACC and Big East Coach of the Year honors • One of 5 men to earn ACC Coach of the Year and Big East Coach of the Years honors multiple times in each league • Led Florida State to the 2012 ACC Championship - the first ACC basketball championship in school history • Has led Florida State to a school record four consecutive NCAA Tournaments (2009-12) • Led Florida State to the 2009 NCAA Tournament after a 10-year absence from the tournament for the program • Led Miami to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history (1998-00) • Led Hurricanes to the school's first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1999-00 • Led Hurricanes to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1965 in 1999 and 2000 • Led Florida State to three consecutive NIT appearances - 2006, 2007, 2008 • Led Florida State to the second round of the NIT in 2004 for the Seminoles' first postseason appearance since 1998 • Led Miami to NIT appearances in 1995 and 1997 - the first postseason appearances in 31 years (1964) • Led Oklahoma State to back-to-back NIT appearances (1989, 1990), the first consecutive postseason appearances for OSU since 1954 • Ended the 2011-12 season ranked 10th by the Associated Press - the Seminoles' highest ranking since 1993 • Ended the 1998-99 season ranked 10th by the Associated Press - the Hurricanes' highest AP ranking since 1960 • The Seminoles ranked No. 1 nationally in field goal percentage defense in 2010 and 2011 • The Hurricanes ranked nationally in field goal percentage defense in 1998 • 25 of 28 seniors who completed their eligibility under Hamilton while he has been the head coach at Florida State have earned their degrees • 28 of 31 seniors who completed their eligibility under Hamilton while he was the head coach at Miami earned their degrees. • 10 Top 20 recruiting classes • A member of the athletics Hall of Fame at Tennessee-Martin (charter member), Austin Peay, University of Miami and Gaston County in his home state of North Carolina. • First Associate Head Basketball Coach in Kentucky history • Was an assistant coach on Kentucky's 1978 NCAA Championship team