Greg White’s head coaching tree spread some more Friday when former Marshall point guard A.W. Hamilton accepted the job at Eastern Kentucky.
EKU announced the appointment Friday afternoon. Hamilton, a native of Georgetown, Kentucky, served this season at North Carolina State — for another ex-Marshall assistant, Kevin Keatts.
With Hamilton heading to Richmond, White now has at least eight coaching proteges running their own programs in NCAA Division I or II. The others: Gregg Marshall (Wichita State), Bryan Poore (West Virginia State), Jeff Boals (Stony Brook), Keatts (N.C. State), Jeff Burkhamer (West Florida), John Brannen (Northern Kentucky) and Mark Downey (Northeastern State, Oklahoma).
And that list doesn’t include at least two former head coaches: Donnie Jones, who was head coach three seasons at MU and six at Central Florida, and former Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson, who worked at MU very briefly in the summer of 1996 before accepting a position at Maryland. Jones played and coached under White at Pikeville.
As one can imagine, White is proud of his legacy, which follows his hiring philosophy at MU and the University of Charleston.
“I always had a rule: I wanted to hire head coaches, potential head coaches,” White said. “Some guys are good enough to do it, but they get in the profession and then they realize they don’t want to do it; they get out of coaching.
“There’s a lot of craziness in coaching, and there’s a lot of wonderful things as well. To be a head coach, you’ve got to be pretty talented, you’ve got to be lucky, because somebody’s got to take a step out and hire you.”
Hamilton was a graduate assistant under coach Ron Jirsa in 2005-06 after his three-year playing career, but it was White who brought him in as a transfer from Wake Forest. Hamilton remains 11th on MU’s all-time list in assists (411) and 13th in 3-point shooting (38.6 percent).
He helped the Thundering Herd pull off two of the biggest upsets in the rivalry with West Virginia, beating the 24th-ranked Mountaineers in 2005 and the ninth-ranked team in 2006. The former was notable because the Herd finished 6-22 that season.
White tried to recruit Hamilton out of Hargrave Military Academy, and stayed in contact after Hamilton committed to Wake Forest. Hamilton came to MU with Keatts when White hired Keatts in 2001.
Hamilton worked for Keatts at Hargrave from 2006-11. When Keatts departed for Louisville in 2011, Hamilton took over as Hargrave’s head coach and did well enough to be in that school’s Hall of Fame.
Hargrave is rich in basketball tradition, and Hamilton upheld it: In the 11 years Hamilton was involved, Hargrave produced 113 Division I players, 33 Division II players, one McDonald’s All-American, one Parade All-American and nine NBA players.
When Keatts moved from North Carolina-Wilimington to N.C. State, he brought on Hamilton, and they helped lead the Wolfpack to a 21-12 record. Hamilton applied for the Morehead State job in March 2017, but the school went with interim coach Preston Spradlin.
“God works in mysterious ways,” White said. “This is a much better job for him, a much better fit for him. … He’s going to have the opportunity to have his wife and kids around his mom and dad and his siblings. … He’s got a following without even coming to campus yet.”
White’s proteges haven’t just become head coaches, they largely have been successful. Those currently a head coach:
- Marshall, who worked for White from 1996-98, will always lead this list. The Shockers’ first-round loss to MU does little to detract from his 480-180 record, which includes seven NCAA appearances each at Winthrop and Wichita.
- Keatts is 93-40 in four seasons overall, having taken two UNCW teams to the NCAA tournament, as well as his first Wolfpack squad.
- Boals is 31-33 in two seasons, suffering through a 13-19 campaign. His 2016-17 team was second in the America East.
- Brannen, who played his senior season for White, is 56-43 overall, 55-42 in three seasons at Northern Kentucky. He led the Norse to the NCAA tournament in 2016-17, the school’s first season of full Division I eligibility.
He was an assistant in 1999-2000 at UC, and served as an interim coach during Alabama’s 1-1 run in the 2015 National Invitation Tournament.
- Poore, who worked for White at UC and Marshall, is 324-264 overall, 312-250 at State. He won two regular-season championships and three tournament titles in the old West Virginia Conference.
- Downey just finished his first season at Northeastern State, leading the RiverHawks to an 8-20 record — a small improvement from 5-23. He was a Division I assistant the previous three seasons, at Bowling Green and Fort Wayne.
At Arkansas Tech, UC and West Alabama, Downey was 154-83, with four NCAA regional appearances, for a 162-103 total.
- Burkhamer is thriving in Pensacola, leading the Argonauts to a 28-4 record this season. He is 55-32 at UWF, 272-185 in 16 seasons overall, having previously coached at Armstrong State and Lander.
- As for the former head coaches, Jones was 133-128 in his time at MU and UCF, and Dickerson 71-85 in five seasons at Tulane (2005-10).
Add the seven current and two former head coaches’ wins and you have 1,622. Hamilton has an example to follow, but White is certain he is up to the task.
“In A.W.’s case, he was always a great leader,” said White, now a motivational speaker. “He and I met, we clicked, he was an outstanding point guard. I’ve been to Hargrave a number of times to speak for him, to the cadets there. He and I have maintained a strong relationship, and we have a lot of common ground, being a point guard at Marshall, a player-coach relationship.
“We think a lot alike, and I’m really, really thrilled for him.”