WSSU's Cleo Hill Jr. is named CIAA coach of the year

It was a complete surprise to be named the CIAA Head Men's Basketball Coach of the Year. Although I believe our regular season was solid, there are so many great coaches in our conference. The Coach of the Year nominees includes multiple CIAA champions.  

I've been awarded Coach of the Year honors on two other occasions. The CIAA COY in 2012 at Shaw University and The PSAC COY in 2008 at Cheyney University were both very special to me. But, by far, this one means the most to me for several reasons.  

Number one, I coach at the greatest institution of higher learning in the country. Number two, in a way, I am sitting in the exact seat of my mentor and a legend, Clarence Big House Gaines. Number three, my father walked this very campus with a silk cape that said Mr. Basketball. And finally number four, last but not least, HERE is where my father met my mother. HERE is where they made their home and stayed together until he was called to be with the Lord. 

I feel tremendous emotion with this honor. Emotions that I can never show in a public situation. So I wait to display them during my 40-minute commute. God has blessed me in so many ways. Some I can share and some I can never share. But, sending me two guys like Ricky Wilson and Lance Beckwith is a tremendous blessing. Those are my assistant head coaches. They are the hardest workers and most loyal guys in the business. This staff will prove to be the most legendary in history. They both take pride in their craft and profession. I have the best two assistant coaches at this level.

An award like this is never an individual honor. So many things come into play. I am blessed to have the support of our University. I have the best chancellor in the country. I went form George Knox, the best AD in the country, to Mrs. Etienne Thomas, another tremendous AD. In addition, our athletic department is so supportive and they are matched by the faculty and staff throughout the campus. 

But, the ultimate support comes from my wife and kids. Their understanding of the long hours at the gym, days on the road and moods after tough losses. If I tried to explain how much you mean to me and how much I love you, I don't believe words were created that would give it justice. I am truly blessed. 

Now let us address the elephant in the room. The world has witnessed our alumni and community support on social media. There is no mistaking that. But, the undermentioned power of our student body has not received their proper salute. I have witnessed some great atmospheres. I have coached for programs with great atmospheres. I have coached against programs with great atmospheres. I have coached against the University of North Carolina. I have coached against Duke University. They came correct with their Division One energy and atmosphere. BUT, no one comes close to what OUR STUDENTS, OUR BAND, OUR CHEERLEADERS, OUR DANCE TEAM, OUR DJ, OUR PA ANNOUNCER, and OUR GAMEDAY CREW have created! My staff and I will do our very best to bring the trophy back where it belongs. All of you have a hand in on this award. I thank you, I salute you. - Cleo Hill Jr

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