The Streak is Still Alive

We are trying to stay undefeated in 2022. In a packed C.E. Center, the Ramily supported both the women's and men's basketball programs.  

After the women's impressive win, the men came out slow. Let's credit Claflin's coach Ricky Jackson. My former assistant coach at Shaw Univ. had them super prepared. Claflin came out on fire, hitting shots from all over the court. They ran their offense to perfection early on. Midway through the first half, I thought we adjusted to their style of play. We settled in offensively, especially in transition. I thought playing faster would be to our benefit with Claflin pressing and trappy as they did. 

The second half was back and forth, but we imposed our will on the defensive glass. We outrebounded Claflin 35 -24... 

Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts." 


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Division Play is Always a Dog Fight

Competing against teams in the division is always tough. Especially when we are facing a well-coached team led by Coach Marqus Johnson and the conference's leading scorer, Dhashon Dyson. 

Our players didn't just do a good job on the defensive end, during the first half of the game. I would say the team did a great job n the defensive end. The half saw our defense hold the Falcons to 20 points and the conference's leading scorer to 4 points. We produced the best 20 minutes of defense I've seen in years. The guys followed the scouting report to the letter. 

The start of the 2nd half showed more great defense and an even better offense...

Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts." 


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RS Freshman Hits Game Winner

My first game back of the New Year! Congratulations to my talented assistant coaches who led the program to two impressive wins versus two former CIAA Championship and former Coach of the Year Award winners.

So, of course, for my first game of the New Year, we faced another CIAA champion and former Coach of the Year Award winner, Coach Shawn Walker. Coach Walker is a very accomplished coach and a respected leader of Elizabeth City State. I knew it would be a close game. 

We still had five players out dealing with injuries and COVID-19 protocol. We started very slow, while ECSU started on fire...

  • Click here to see freshman Issac Parson's game-winner

  • Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts." 


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The Cleo Hill Award

One of the primary goals of ERACISM is to educate today’s fans on the stars of the past and the HBCU Legends Awards will shine a light on players like Kentucky State’s Travis Grant who is College Basketball’s all-time leading scorer. Thus, the Travis Grant Award will annually honor the top scorer in all levels of college basketball. The Zelmo Beaty Award will highlight the nation’s top shot blocker, the Marques Haynes Award will recognize the leader in steals, the Cleo Hill Award will highlight college basketball’s leader in assists, and the Willis Reed Award will be presented annually to the top rebounder in college basketball. 

  • Click here for more on ERACISM

  • Click here for past Cleo Hill Award winners.


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Two Games Out Due To COVID

From a few different viewpoints, missing the last few games due to the COVID-19 protocol was difficult. However, my program was in great hands.


I've spoken about my assistant coaches, Ricky Wilson and Lance Beckwith, on several occasions. I give them large responsibilities on a day-to-day basis, so it was business as normal for both of them... 


Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts." 


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A Legend Called Home

Former North Carolina Central Eagle, Sam Jones, passed away on December 30. 

There is a standard when playing guard at North Carolina Central. That standard is Sam Jones. 

Knowing the history of the NBA, meeting Sam Jones during my freshman year at NCCU was a treat. I've always known him as being both positive and authentic. We kept in contact over the years and, we often spoke when I changed coaching positions. 

A memory that stands out was my senior year in college. Sam called a game on BET with the great Charlie Neal. The game was against my current employer, Winston-Salem State. Coach Gaines was the coach at the time. Charlie and Sam had some good things to say about me during the broadcast. He got a kick out of me shooting a bank-shot during the game (that was the shot he was famous for). Of course, I got the MVP of the game. How could I not? With legends calling the game, Hall of fame coaches coaching against each other, playing in the annex gym, and on BET, I had to show my best.


I remember Mr. Jones made a team visit when I was an assistant coach at Mount Zion Christian Academy. During the visit, Sam spoke with the team and challenged me to a shooting contest. Neither one of us shot the ball well that day. I was more amused by being on the same court with such a basketball ICON! I  lost so much with his passing, a fellow alum, a mentor, and a friend. 

Sam was so excited for me to coach at Winston Salem State University. When I got the job he called and we spoke for some time. He will be missed by all the people that he helped as well as the basketball world. - Cleo Hill Jr.


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RAM-Mathematical Formula

With back-to-back road defeats and a victory via a forfeit, WSSU Basketball managed to get three wins! Before that mathematical formula confuses you, let me explain.

First, our current WSSU Ram and 2020 Lincoln University transfer, Cameron Cambell, graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Cameron will walk across the stage in our Spring ceremony. 

The second win of the day was our Durham native and CIAA 2020 Champion, Justice Kithcart, graduating with a degree in Sports Management. Justice came to the Rams from Old Dominion University. Justice's mother is a proud graduate of Winston Salem State University! 

The third win of the day was down in South Carolina. Javonte Cooke graduated from Mars Hill University with a degree in Sports Management. Javonte and Cameron will finish their last year of eligibility this semester as WINSTON SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY RAMS! 

In this profession, you can lose and still win on the same day! I am so proud of all three young men. I can assure you that their parents are happy as well. Walking across the stage is an essential part of what we talk about here at WSSU during the recruiting process. To see it happen and the faces of these young men and their parents are priceless. 

Special thanks to Dr. Crawford Crooks and Mrs. Vicki Grant for staying with these young men. Also, thanks to my staff as we do our part in emphasizing the importance of walking across the stage. And to Justice, Cameron, and Javonte leave WSSU... GoAndBeGreat!! - Coach Cleo Hill Jr.

Bowie State Men's Basketball Game against Winston-Salem State University, scheduled for Monday, December 20, is declared a forfeit due to COVID-19 protocols.


Fireworks In Pennslyvania

Corey Lowery is doing a great job in his first full year as head coach. His team was well prepared. 


I thought the game pace was great for us. We did well in transition offense and defense early. The game was physical and intense. We did much better in one of our weaker areas of free-throw shooting, going 10-13 and the rebounding was 36-38. But we also gave up 16 offensive rebounds. You will almost never win a game giving up that many offensive rebounds. 


There was a lot of chirping during the game which is nothing new in our league. However, you cannot let the chirping... 


Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts." 


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The Rematch

Our Virginia Union rematch was what I thought it would be, a defensive battle. The Panthers continue to be famous for their 2-3 circle zone and have been for years. Coach Butler does a great job of emphasizing the effort on the defensive end. 


Two of our Achilles heels bit us again, rebounding and free throws. Two of the most basic elements of sports continue to hurt us. We had some success against the zone in spurts, but it was not enough to overcome a 21-43 rebounding edge, including 12 offensive rebounds for Union. Our free throw shoot found us at 8-17 from the line... 


Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts." 


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Wolfpack Legend #25

One of the greatest events in all sports is the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Why? Because it is full of stories, powerhouses, underdogs, and legends. 

I started watching the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 1978. The story that was brewing at the time was Indiana State vs. Michigan State. I was a Larry Bird fan in 1978, but I also kept hearing the name of a Michigan State player. They called him Earvin "Magic" Johnson.  I remember my uncle telling my dad how he thought I looked like Earvin Johnson. The nickname "Magic" followed me ever since. 

In 1982, my dad wanted me to watch the championship game, coached by an African-American head coach, John Thompson. That was an influential moment in my life. 

In grade 11, I started to get serious about college. In the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, The NC State "Cinderella team" was the headline in the news. I quickly became a fan. It was one of my first memories of watching players who played the game the way I played the game. One of the players I gravitated to was #25, Dereck Whittenburg. As NC State battled the indestructible PhiSlamma Jamma, University of Houston, I cheered for the underdog. 

In the last moments of that championship game, #25 took what should have been the last shot of the game, for the win. But, the shot fell short and became the greatest assist in NCAA Men's Basketball history. 

I met Whittenburg a few summers later in a pick-up game. Later in life, we both became coaches and ran into each other on the recruiting circuit. Whittenburg has always had a positive word about basketball, coaching, and life. He is successful at whatever he puts his hands on. 

In November of 2019, Whittenburg spoke to my team. He spoke about championships and what it took to obtain them. He also spoke about cherishing the moment and the relationships. I am thankful to call #25 my friend. #GoRams


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Non-Conference Thriller

The non-conference portion of the season has ended with the most exciting game so far. On Wednesday, we battled an inspired Morris College, in South Carolina. It was our first overtime game of the season. After shooting 1-16 from deep, and 15-31 from the free-throw line, most coaches would be depressed with the shooting accuracy. Although I am not happy with those numbers, I am proud that I found out how physically and mentally tough this team can be. 

We found a way to win a tough overtime game on the road. Outside of learning that my team has some heart, I saw so many things that we can improve on. Our depth will be a key factor all season. We have some time to clean up a few things and continue building team chemistry... 


Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts." 


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Slam Dunk

Good Month for the Rams

As the month comes to a close, I'd say it was a good November for our basketball program. Last night, we battled high-scoring Clinton College.  The emphasis was on fundamentals and effort on the defensive end. Our 2019-20 CIAA Championship team went into tournament play (canceled for Covid-19) as the #5 defensive team in the country, at the Division II level. This team can be as good defensively as that team. We have specific mandatory rules, or you will sub out of the game. We held Clinton College to 21 points in the 1st half. 

On the offensive end, we have a lot of work to do. Even though we scored 100 points, I was not pleased with the execution...


Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts." 

Happy Thanksgivings Day

We are currently in the rat race right now. Weight lifting, study hall, film sessions, traveling, scouting reports, individual skill development, test, quizzes, team meetings, and we can't forget the intensity of non-conference battles. With little time to take a breath, we were able to sneak in a team Thanksgiving dinner. 

Our roster has students from as far as South Carolina, New Jersey, Chicago, and France. Those players were not able to go home due to a game scheduled in less than 48 hours. My coaching staff and support staff did a great job setting up our meeting room with decorations and an even better job of getting the food catered. 

After talking about football and Lebron James vs Michael Jordan, we soon got everyone's attention and blessed the food. We have a sharp young freshman in Stefon Mcleod that has volunteered all the food blessings and pre-game prayer. He is such a fine young man. He blessed the food and we began to line up to be served. 

Near the end of the fellowship, my coaches passed out our dog tags with each player's name on them. Coming up to the front to receive the dog tag, each player and coach would share one or a few things that they were thankful for. I thought it was great to see and hear. Amid everything going on, these young men have a good heart. This is a very special group for me as well as a special staff. I am truly blessed in so many ways. 

After meeting with my basketball family, I spent some much-needed time with my own family after being away for five days. I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving. I am sure some of us, including myself, had a first thanksgiving or yet another thanksgiving without a loved one. These times can be tough, but give thanks for having them in your lives for the amount of time we did. It works for me. I say a prayer for those whom I know this is the 1st year without.

Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday season to you all! - Coach Cleo Hill Jr.


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Chris Paul's HOF Classic

It was a great five-day stay in Connecticut. Chris Paul, The Naismith Hall of Fame, and Boost Mobile were perfect hosts for all four invitees; West Virginia State, Morehouse College, Virginia Union, and Winston-Salem State University. We all toured The Basketball Hall of Fame as soon as we arrived.


Personally, it took me down memory lane to see some of my mentors highlighted as well as people who gave me advice about basketball and life. Coach Clarence Gaines, Earl Monroe, John Chaney, Al Attles, Sam Jones, Lenny Wilkins, Paul Silas... 


Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts" and never before viewed behind the scene photos.


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There's No Place Like Home

It was another great team win, Friday night. The WSSU campus and community came out in full effect. The atmosphere was more than electric. Dr. Michael Magruder and The Red Sea of Sound represented as they always do. 

We welcomed Coach Washington with her first basketball game back as the head cheer coach, and the Red team turned up. The Dance Team was also represented very well in C.E. Gaines Center. A home game wouldn't be complete without the DJ keeping us rolling. The only thing needed was...


Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts"


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Good Night in the ATL

Last night was a good night in Atlanta versus Clark Atlanta. Our team and staff were well prepared. Coach Beckwith delivered yet another detailed scouting report. We felt very comfortable with their personnel. Both teams seemed very tight early, but our effort showed at both ends of the court. Once we settled down we were fine, especially after a few substitutions. 

John Hicklin played very steady throughout the game and led us down the stretch in scoring, playmaking, and rebounding...


Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts"


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West Liberty State Classic

The West Liberty State Classic was a good Classic for us to enter. Competing against programs with consistent NCAA playoff appearances was great for our players. Even watching East Stroudsburg, another familiar foe from my days in the PSAC, was good for us. Jeff has been there a long time and is no stranger to the NCAA playoffs.


We wanted to play a "national schedule" to prepare our program to win a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! This weekend was the first step in that direction. Again, thank you for your support via social media and your donations!


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Prepared and Ready

Wheeling Jesuit University was our second game. Wheeling is another NCAA Division II foe I have faced with more success. Defeating them in the NCAA Tournament in 2012, I moved on to the regional final. I felt like we were more locked in for this game. All 11 new players finally realized that this Division II level is REAL! 

The scouting report was great (as it was for West Liberty). Both of my coaches do a great job in giving details in the delivery. The game was tight the entire way...


Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts"


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A Long Time Coming

It is official, the start of the 2021-2022 NCAA Basketball season. Our pre-season was educational, especially having our D1 ACC and Big South tour. We decided to enter into one of the most difficult regional classics in D2 hosted by powerhouse West Liberty (#14 in the nation). 

It's nearly ten years since I had been in their gym. I coached against them in the NCAA Regionals while at Shaw University two straight years from 2010-11 and 2011-12. Both years We came up just short in two close battles...


Click here to see more of Coach's "After Game Thoughts"


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Our 2nd ACC Contest

Wake Forest hosted our last exhibition game of the early season, on Saturday. Wake's head coach, Steve Forbes is a class act and accomplished professional. We had a chance to meet one another at past events. He is someone I am cheering to have a good season.


I felt our staff was prepared for the contest. We made a few game-time changes, but not enough to throw off the game plan. During the game, our transition defense was not sharp and neither was the help side defense, in the half-court. Those two areas allowed Wake to get a few easy looks early. I also thought we took a step backward in the execution of our half-court offense, primarily our out-of-bounds plays. 


With 11 new players on the team, being under the ACC lights so early will help out development. I see a lot of promise in our players, although our execution will have to get better. 


Wake Forest made some adjustments with their ball screen defense. We countered well, but it took us too long to capitalize. Wake's size bothered us in several different areas, finishing at the rim and driving the lane. The ball/player movement was something I tried to stress in time-outs. 


In addition to our half-court shortcomings, we have to work on our effort in transition offense. We have determined our starters and developed a rotation. 


Thank you, Wake Forest Athletics. Our basketball program improved on Saturday. I would love for it to continue. Thank you to the Winston Salem community that came out to support their two hometown teams.


Thanks to George Packenham, our "Coach for a Day" winner. I loved seeing him decked out in his WSSU gear. It was our first year doing a coach for the day contest. I thought it was a success. If anyone has any ideas on how to improve the contest, please contact me by email. This is something we would like to continue for the campus, community, and graduates. - Cleo Hill Jr.


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Over 600 Days

It's been over 600 days since I posted thoughts after a game. I always try to wait 20 hours before putting my thoughts and feelings into text. 

We competed in an exhibition game against Duke University in Cameron Indoor Stadium yesterday. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we canceled last year's scheduled exhibition along with our season.

Nearly five months ago, Duke University's legendary coach announced this season would be his last. Coach K could have chosen to play any program to start his final coaching season, but he decided to honor his commitment to WSSU. To me, it was such a class decision and respect for our university and basketball program. 

Before the game, my staff and I presented Coach K with a plaque to honor him, his career, and all he has contributed to the game of basketball. I hope all other coaches follow up with a similar gesture.

As for the game, I am very proud of how our players took on the storm head-on. The emotions in the building were colossal. But, our players wanted to battle from whistle to buzzer. Again, I am very proud of them.

Of course, as a competitor, the final score was not pleasing. But, after rewatching the game hours later, I am so happy our players had a chance to experience the moment. We competed against one of Duke University's best teams. While rewatching the games, I don't know if any other team could reveal the things Duke did. For that, I am grateful. 

I can recall when our great Chancellor, Elwood Robinson, told me how he wanted our student-athletes to receive a first-class education and experiences that are second to none. I believe this Saturday checked those boxes.

We have a closed scrimmage against North Carolina A&T on Wednesday and Friday. Then, we will be back in the ACC to battle Wake Forest University. The education and experiences will never end at Winston-Salem State. It is such a great school to attend.

Thank you to Don Cyprian, the winner of our "Coach for a Day" contest. I had a chance to speak with him before the game. Trust me, he loves basketball and had some great words for the guys after the game. He received WSSU basketball gifts. I hope he is a RAM supporter for life. 

Also, thank you to Coach Mike Krzyzewski, his basketball staff, and Duke University. We will be prepared for the CIAA. - #GoRams Cleo Hill Jr.


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Homecoming 2021

Coach Massey and our WSSU Football Team came away with another division win and extended their winning streak to THREE. It was great to see so many students, fans, alumni and supports in attendance. 

Legendary WSSU Ram Ted Blunt took time to visit basketball practice during Homecoming. We were all happy to see him and grateful that he wanted to speak with the team. The change of pace was much needed.    


The best thing about Homecoming is the time I spend with alumni. This year, I fellowshipped with graduates from 1960 through 2020. I never get tired of the stories of Coach Gaines and my father. I can listen to them forever. 

Homecoming 2021 was a success. Here are some sights from the day. - Cleo Hill Jr


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Battle Day Is Coming...

Two WSSU fans can be "Coach For A Day" and sit on the bench in games at Duke and Wake Forest.



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