What's Happening Now?
See all the great things Coach Hill has on his agenda.
WSSU Legacy Week on YouTube
Click here to view the channel: WSSU RAMS
(click below to see the videos)
Tiana Edwards '18 -
Robert Colon '20 -
Henrietta Clark '38 -
Cleo Hill, Sr. '61 -
Sharon Holloway-Tanner '88 -
Carlos Terry '78 -
Ted Blunt '65 -
Chellia Nelson '98 -
Faye Strother '86 -
Earl "The Pearl" Monroe '67 -
WSSU Northern Connection Alumni Chapter
Last night, I had the pleasure of a Zoom meeting with the WSSU Northern Connection Alumni Chapter. The meeting started as a New Jersey homecoming. We spoke about the connections we shared and the friends we had in common. I also had a chance to find out what some old rivals were doing. And as usual, the debate about which section of New Jersey had the best ballplayers and teams began.
I want to give a special thank you to the host of the meeting and our new associate athletic director, who is also from New Jersey.
I had a chance to speak about my coaching history. I also told the story about how I became the head coach of the Rams.
The chapter also asked how they could continue to help the basketball program reach its goals. I can tell you that the support we are receiving is second to none. There were so many genuinely great ideas. They were very organized in their questions and very passionate about wanting to assist in growing the program.
The New Jersey connections also offered to reach out to assist the program. And once the meeting concluded, I was on FIRE.
I thank A.D. Hurt and the WSSU Northern Connection for their ears and time. - #GORAMS Cleo Hill Jr.
Basketball Pioneer, Legendary Coach, Hall of Famer - Black History Month
Cleo Hill Sr. - An American professional basketball player who was selected by the St. Louis Hawks in the first round (8th overall) of the 1961 NBA draft. A 6'1" guard from Newark, New Jersey, and Winston-Salem State University, Hill played in the National Basketball Association with the Hawks, in 1961–62. Hill was only the fifth African-American from a historically black college and university to be taken in the first round of an NBA draft.
For more information on Cleo Hill Sr. and his legacy, please visit his tribute page here.
No. 1 HBCU in the Nation for Social Mobility
Technology provider and creator of the Social Mobility Index (SMI), CollegeNET, ranks WSSU as the No. 1 HBCU and North Carolina institution for social mobility. The SMI measures the number of under-resourced students a college or university educates at affordable tuition rates and graduates them into promising careers.
1st Annual Academic Draft
The 1st Annual Men's Basketball Academic Draft was held Friday, January 29th. Each coach drafted four players to represent their team. The rules are simple. The team with the highest GPA for the 2021 Spring Semester will win a socially distanced dinner per the NCAA rule "occasional meal".
The teams were reviewed and approved by Dr. Georgette Crawford-Crooks, Assistant Dean, Student Interventions, Engagement and Retention, and Vicki Grant, Executive Retention Advisor. After much deliberation, it was decided there were no wrongdoings and all the teams are fair, balanced, and ready for a fierce competition.
The consensus number one overall draft choice, Justin Ross was omitted from draft eligibility. Ross held the Chancellor's Academic Cup for the last three years with a 4.0 GPA. He is scheduled to graduate in May of 2021.
Coaches entered their "War Rooms" with all the academic notes needed to draft the best team they could assemble. After the dust cleared, here are the results, in alphabetical order:
Coach Beckwith's (The Academic Team) - Jonathan Hicklin, Shamon Jackson, Jaylin Parker, and Isaac Parson.
Coach Hill's (Team LeBron) - Jaylen Alston, Xavier Fennell, Melvin Huntley, and Samage Teel.
Coach Wilson's (Dream Team) - Cameron Campbell, Cyrille Diop, Rasheen Merlin, and Abnar Muhammad.
The event was not televised this year. But, we are seeking sponsorship restaurants to host our next draft.
CBS Sports to Air New Earl “The Pearl” Monroe Documentary
“It is imperative that at CBS Sports and as an industry, we work towards a more diverse and inclusive landscape,” said Harold Bryant, executive producer and executive vice president of CBS Sports in a statement. “Telling these stories of black athletes is extremely important, and we are proud that many of our black employees have the opportunity to direct these productions. These vignettes written, produced, and edited by the employees of Black CBS Sports continue this necessary mission of using our resources in front of and behind the camera to lobby for more diversity and inclusion.
Celebrating Black History Month
While we all begin to celebrate Black History Month, I find myself reflecting on the number of coaches who helped mold me into the coach and person I am today.
As an inspiring coach in the early 1990's, I had many role models. My first coaching role model was my father, Cleo Hill Sr. He educated me on the importance of a coach, the player to coach relationship, and how a coach can become a father figure to players.
I also owe so much to Coach Greg White. He is someone I continue to speak with and get mentored by, even to this day. The confidence he gave me was unreal.
My varsity head coach was Cliff Blake. He inspired me to lead from the front and as a captain. He also put the first thoughts of me majoring in Health and Physical Education.
My first college coach was an interim head coach, Choker Edmonds. Shortly after, there was the hiring of Coach Mike Bernard. That's when the introduction of accountability, discipline, defense, and inner drive occurred.
As I started my coaching career, I had all of my past coaches in mind. But I gravitated to icons like John Thompson, Clarence "Big House" Gaines (who became my coaching mentor), and John Chaney.
I was blessed to meet and learn from all three during my coaching career. The conversations were all the same to a degree. The topic was to help the next generation. Moreover, hold the next generation to a high standard on the court and especially off the court.
I feel a special connection to Coach Gaines and Coach Chaney. I had the pleasure of sitting in the same coaching seat they once occupied. As the head coach at Cheyney University, I saw the National Championship banner won by Coach John Chaney.
Now I am the head coach of Winston-Salem State University. As before, every practice is a reminder that my coaching mentor won a National Championship for the school, a goal I need and must accomplish.
We lost Coach Gaines in 2005, Coach Thompson in 2020, and Coach Chaney recently in 2021. We can never replace these coaches and these men. As we remember all of them this month, I am sure the masses will share lessons learned from them all. I am so blessed to be in this profession and to emulate those giants. - Cleo Hill Jr
Winston-Salem State University to be Featured on ESPN First Take
WINSTON-SALEM, NC - The Winston-Salem State University Rams will host one of their own on one of the biggest stages in the nation when ESPN brings its First Take on to the campus of Winston-Salem State University. On Wednesday, February 3rd, ESPN will feature Winston-Salem State University with portions of the show being broadcast live from the Clarence E. Gaines Center on the campus of Winston-Salem State University.
"We are extremely excited for Winston-Salem State University to join Stephen A. and First Take as we recognize the contributions and importance of Historically Black Colleges & Universities during our celebration of Black History Month," said ESPN producer James Dunn. "I can't wait to see the Rams represent and give our viewers a taste of HBCU life."
CIAA Basketball Tournament 75th Anniversary
As the year finally, mercifully, comes to a close, I thought it appropriate to recognize our athletic conference and its successful history in basketball.
As written on theciaa.com website, the CIAA conducts 14 championships attended by more than 150,000 fans from around the country. In 2020, the conference celebrated the special 75th anniversary of its Championship Basketball Tournament - an event that has become a must-see in the African -American community.
Darvin "Darv" Bethea
It is with such a heavy heart to announce the passing of a man who has meant a lot to me, Darvin "Darv" Bethea. Darv graduated on, late Friday night. We both attended Heywood Avenue Elementary School, Orange Middle School, and Orange High School, together. We were Tornadoe/Orange Brothers, balling out for Orange High School under Coach Blake and Coach Thompson.
After high school, we attended different colleges. But, we both returned to our roots to become assistant coaches for the Tornadoes! Those were great times and great years. The highlight of those years was winning the championship in the Tournament of Champions! Darv was very instrumental in the chemistry of that staff, led by Al Thompson.
Darv and I kept in touch over the years. When I was out of coaching for a brief moment, he was there to keep my spirits up as well as helping me with a few interviews. Darv was always upbeat and looked on the bright side of every situation. He was a true friend, brother, father, husband, and hard-working coach. We shared so many memories. He is someone I will miss dearly. Rest in peace, my Tornadoe/Orange Brother. - Cleo Hill Jr.
Captain, Justin Ross Making Us All Proud
Although there are many challenges in the year 2020, there have been a few bright spots. One of the brightest spots is being blessed to coach Justin Ross!
Justin has been such a leader during this time, both on the court and in the community. His practice habits also had a nice uptick going into his senior year. He's shooting the ball great, his IQ is very high, his work ethic has been great as well. He does more than his part in working out with the freshman, and he brings a great attitude to the program. These are just a few reasons he was to be named captain for the upcoming season.
In closing, Justin has earned yet another 4.0 GPA semester. In this coaching profession, you have your challenges year to year with different kinds of young men, but everyone once in a while, you have special young men that you can smile about once you have finished walking the sidelines. Justin Ross will be one of those young men.
Congratulations on another fine semester in the classroom Captain Justin Ross! - Coach Cleo Hill Jr
First and foremost, I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. To say the least, this has been a year like no other.
The first semester has concluded. Our players and staff are all home safely with their families and loved ones. There are a lot of unknowns going into the second semester. But, no matter what lies ahead, we always have time to bless others. With the assistance of Ms. Brittany Ward and the help of the Experience in Self Reliance program, the Winston-Salem State University Men's Basketball were able to bless two families for the holiday.
The families were very appreciative and the surprise on their faces was priceless. Maybe this can be the start of a tremendous tradition.
Now, it's time for me to bless my family, as I prepare an edible smoked spiral ham. Please pray for them, it's the first time I'm attempting such a feat. Happy Holidays to ALL. - Coach Cleo Hill Jr.
WSSU's Justin Ross takes part in Election Day working at one of the voting sites
I can't say enough about my senior guard Justin Ross. Justin was out yesterday for election day as a judge at one of the polling places in Winston Salem. Justin is a young man that always goes above and beyond. He is one of those rare young men that come along every few years that really gets "IT". He always seems to understand when there is a bigger goal at hand. Young Ross was responsible for a few things yesterday: making sure ballots processed correctly as well as making sure the social distancing guidelines were followed as well assisting with curbside voters. He is definitely a pleasure to coach! He is always on time for events regardless of how big or small. Has assisted with tutoring as well as mentoring/working with some of the freshman players. You can mark it down in the books, this young man will be successful in ANY field he decides to enter in to. - Cleo Hill Jr.
NBA star, Chris Paul walks with 2,500 people to an early-voting site at WSSU
From the Clock Tower to the early voting site at the Anderson Building, the 10-time NBA All-Star, and now Winston-Salem State student, Chris Paul joined the "March to Vote" on Winston-Salem's State University's campus, Tuesday.
Also in attendance were: Chancellor Robinson, Powerhouse Cheerleaders, The Red Sea of Sound, Congressional Candidate of the 6th district of N.C. Kathy Manning, Coach Cleo Hill Jr., and thousands of WSSU students with CDC compliant masks.
It's more important than ever to vote this coming election. North Carolina is considered a swing state or battleground state. In politics, this refers to any state that could reasonably be won by either the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate by a swing in votes.
On Friday, our Men's Basketball team met with the WSSU's EEO Investigators/Title IX/assistant coordinator, Mrs. Aniya Ward, to discuss title IX's importance. The training was for all student-athletes, regardless of classification. The training is completed annually to make sure our student-athletes are educated as much as possible on this topic. The session was completed in the Anderson Building to comply with social distancing rules and COVID-19 compliance.
Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is committed to providing an inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment for all members of the University community and an institutional environment free from unwelcome and unwarranted prohibited conduct. The university strongly condemns all forms of sex discrimination, including sexual misconduct, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking offenses.
For more information, please click here:
We Are Now On The Clock
Well, early voting has started. We are NOW ON THE CLOCK. I am trying to do my part whenever and however I can. My immediate family has voted. My coaches have voted. Eighty percent of the WSSU Men's Basketball team has voted. Our managers and video staff will vote later next week. Although I will try, I know I can't convince everyone to vote. But, at least I can reach my inner circle. At least, I can ask my inner circle to reach out to their inner circle, and so on. WE are NOW ON THE CLOCK.
Due to COVID-19, in-person services may have limited availability. Contact your local election office to confirm. See CDC guidance on safe in-person voting.
North Carolina voters can also vote before Election Day. The early voting period runs from Thursday, October 15, 2020, to Saturday, October 31, 2020, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live.
WSSU Athletics and Blue Cross NC Team Up to Deliver Over 1,200 Meals to Winston-Salem Residents
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Winston-Salem State University Department of Athletics (WSSU) and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) have teamed up for a six-week outreach program to deliver professionally prepared meals to Winston-Salem residents in need.
"We are pleased to team with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina," said Etienne Thomas, WSSU Director of Athletics. "Too many of our neighbors are struggling right now. We hope these meals and additional support from our two organizations will provide some relief to some of those in our community who need it."
For six consecutive weeks, which began Oct. 8 and runs through Nov. 12, representatives from WSSU Athletics and Blue Cross NC will deliver fresh lunches, created and packaged by Jason's Deli, to residents having difficulty traveling to get meals.
"Improving food security is a huge focus for us at Blue Cross NC," said Cheryl Parquet, director of community engagement and marketing activation at Blue Cross NC. "We are proud to collaborate with Winston-Salem State University and provide nutritious meals for our neighbors in need."
- The above text comes from the WSSU athletic website -
"I had a great time with our athletic department, on Thursday. Giving back must become contagious. Our community has embraced the staff, the team, and me from day number one. I have never seen a community embrace a University like this one. I am truly honored. We are a community of one as Rams!!!! - Cleo Hill Jr
An Important Day of Firsts on Campus
We just completed the official first day of practice for Men's Basketball. Keeping the theme of firsts, today was also the first day for early voting. Showing leadership and pride toward our school and community, our team decided to march from the legendary C.E. Gaines Center to the Anderson Center on campus. The march was used to bring awareness to the importance of the day.
As a coach, I am very proud that they decided to demonstrate as a team and extremely pleased the march was held on our historical campus. They were accompanied by Quamekia Shavers who is with the Young Adults Committee of the NAACP of Winston-Salem, and the Urban League.
Personally, my family and I look forward to voting next week in Whitsett, NC. # GoRams
NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committees
Student-athletes have a voice in the NCAA through advisory committees at the campus, conference, and national level. Each committee is made up of student-athletes assembled to provide insight on the student-athlete experience and offer input on the rules, regulations, and policies that affect student-athletes' lives on campus.
The mission of the National Student-Athlete Advisory Committees is to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare, and fostering a positive student-athlete image.
I participated in a group photo demonstrating SAFETY FIRST with the National Student-Athlete Advisory Committees last week. Each student-athlete in attendance was accompanied by his or her head coach. I was proud to participate and support the SAAC Committee as well as our Men's Basketball captain and champion, Jaylen Alston! #GoRams
Register to Vote!
Today, we registered to vote with the Winston-Salem State University Men’s Basketball team. A special thank you to Arnita Miles for alerting us of this important right and need. We are grateful to service constituents through this process. We also had the assistance of County Commissioner Fleming El-Amin. Candidates, you are welcome to any program we host. Our community enjoys your presence.
Elections are decided by the people who go out and vote. Take some time and learn about the measures and the candidates. If you don’t vote, someone else will decide for you. Your power is in your vote.
Honored, Humbled, and Blessed
The Minority Coaches Association (MCA) has recognized me for Coach of the Year. Minority Coaches Association (MCA) is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to foster the growth and development of ethnic minorities at all levels of sports both nationally and internationally. The organization is focused on improving the employment opportunities and professional development of ethnic male and female minority coaches in A.A.U, high school, collegiate, and professional sports. Today, they have announced me as one of their DII Basketball Coaches of the Year (19-20).
When honored with such a humbling award, I must acknowledge winning is never a one-person achievement. I have a great support system, and I don't want them to be unnoticed. My support system includes, but is not limited to my wife and kids, as well as the great staff at Winston-Salem State. The administration's support is unmatched in my coaching career. Our student body, faculty, alumni, and community all play a part in such an honor. I also have the greatest chancellor in the world in Chancellor Robinson, along with our new Athletic Director, A.D Thomas. All these factors go into such an award.
It's truly a blessing to have success in the seat where my mentor sat. But, it is even more of a blessing to have success on the campus my mother and late father met each other. I hope they are proud of our work. The support of my wife, 3 kids, my brother, and most definitely my mom...Eliza Ann Hill. Thank you all for the vote of confidence and support, especially the last five years. - Coach Cleo Hill
MCA ANNOUNCES DIVISION II BASKETBALL COACHES OF THE YEAR (2019-20)
The son of one of the most legendary players in school history, Hill, Jr. has wasted no time in creating a strong place of his own in the history of Rams basketball. In just two seasons with the Rams, Hill, Jr. led the team to its first Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championship in eight years and a 31-25 overall record. In addition to the team’s tournament championship, the Rams also claimed a share of the 2019-20 CIAA Southern Division Championship. Along the way, he was named the 2019-20 CIAA Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year and helped the team to rank seventh in the nation in scoring defense and first in the CIAA. He also led a pair of Rams to earn All-CIAA honors during his time. The Rams also made their first trip to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Tournament since 2013. Before taking the reins of the WSSU program...
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A Full Week Of Team Meetings Concluded
Our team met with two influential people within Winston-Salem State University and Winston-Salem, NC. Deona Cureton-Summers leads the Winston-Salem State University's Office of Community Standards & Civility. As explained in our school's website, the office's mission is to educate students on the policies about conduct and their student rights. By educating students on the integrity and ethical standards of their community, it creates an environment for students to consider, in advance, the consequences of behavioral infractions, to accept responsibility for one's actions in and out of the university, create social justice advocates, and creates an environment for students to understand that they are more than just a student at WSSU, but a representation our community.
We also met with Winston-Salem State Unversity's Chief of Police, Amir Henry. This informative meeting included scenarios on and off-campus. What is the protocol if pulled over by city police? Are there different expectations if pulled over as a young black man? I'm not sure if there was anyone in the room that did not ask multiple questions, including the coaching staff.
Chief Henry oversees all law enforcement services, including 18 full-time, sworn police officers who provide services to the campus and university-owned properties 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Chief Amir Henry, a native of Bronx, N.Y., has more than 14 years of experience as a law enforcement officer and public servant in the state of North Carolina. He has served in various roles as a law enforcement officer throughout his professional career and has extensive knowledge in command level supervision, risk management, incident command center implementation, security threat groups training, and intelligence documentation.
We want to thank both professionals for sharing their knowledge, honesty, and passion during the meetings. We are blessed to have them as Ramily. - Cleo Hill Jr
Our Team's First Academic Meeting
Our Men's Basketball Team met with the Assistant Dean, Dr. Georgette Crawford-Crooks, and Executive Retention Advisor, Mrs. Vicki Grant. The meeting went very well. Both are the best at what they do. I'm more of a bystander during the academic meetings, focused on listening, instead of leading the group. I'm proud of the poignant questions posed by our players and how much they were engaged.
During this meeting, we established goals and set rules. Subtle changes to our academic structure will include more involvement by our coaching assistance. My coaches give so much of their time and effort to assure a top-notch program. I am blessed to have these men with me.
Awards on the court and off the court are our focus. If it's the CIAA Championship, the NCAA Championship, WSSU Athletic Department's Academic Award, or the CIAA Academic Award, it always has a home in our Men's Basketball offices. We are up for the challenge.
Our student-athletes have all the advantages. We have the best retention program in America, the most passionate academic/athletic leaders, devoted landmarks like the Student Success Center at Hill Hall, three floors dedicated to technology, and over fifty tutors available online or in-person.
For more information and photos of Hill Hall, please visit:
So, when you see our student-athletes walk across the stage during graduation, please remember everyone who had a hand in their academic success.
Tomorrow, our team meets with Chief Henry with Winston Salem state university campus police.
Our Team's First Rules and Regulations Meeting
The coaching staff addressed the 2020-21 Winston-Salem State Rams Men's Basketball Team for the first time this year. With our six newcomers and eight returning players, I feel that the meeting was solid. It was not the celebratory meet you may envision. Instead, we set and reset expectations, rules, and regulations. We also discussed items that needed immediate attention, like compliance, paperwork, and tuition. My assistant coaches were helpful during the meeting.
My gut feeling is this is a good group that understands handling business off of the court. Time will tell.
For more information regarding NCAA compliance, please visit,
Champions on the Court, Champions in the Classrooms
Next week marks our Men's Basketball team's first official meeting. It will be the first time the coaches, returning players, and recruits will be in the same room since we won the CIAA tournament championship. You have no idea how much I miss these players.
We were not able to have our 2020 end of the year sports banquet, but last week, the Men's Basketball team did receive more hardware in the form of the Chancellor's Academic Cup Award. Justin Ross (3.94 GPA) is the two-time defending champion for this prestigious award. I would also like to announce that the Men's Basketball team will actively pursue the WSSU Athletic Academic Award, and the CIAA's Team Academic Award. - Cleo Hill Jr
Hello Ramily and other important people who visit the website. Thank you for the emailed comments and questions. It's been a while since I have given thoughts. I will be updating everyone about the team and the Men's Basketball program, now that we are back in school and feel confident about having a season/defending our CROWN. That said, there is SO MUCH going on in the world right now. We are battling COVID 19, election day is approaching, and the fight against social injustice is going on all over the country. The postponement of the NBA season was a tremendous act. I am very proud of the players and coaches for their actions. I stand behind what the NBA offices, the National Basketball Players Association, Chris Paul, the WNBA, Major League Baseball, Professional Tennis, and the rest of the sports world in condemning the racial injustice, bigotry and the unwarranted use of violence by police against people of color. We must ALL come together, work together, to be better, and to do better. - Cleo Hill Jr