A.W. Hamilton was hired as Eastern Kentucky University's 21st men's basketball head coach on March 23, 2018.
A native of Georgetown, Kentucky and a former prep star at Scott County High School, Hamilton spent the 2017-18 season as an assistant coach under Kevin Keatts at North Carolina State University. He helped lead the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament with a 21-12 record, including wins over No. 2 Arizona, No. 2 Duke and No. 10 North Carolina.
“The opportunity to come home and coach at a place like Eastern Kentucky University, with first-class leadership in President Michael Benson, Director of Athletics Stephen Lochmueller and Board of Regents Chair Craig Turner, is one that I cannot truly put into words,” Hamilton said. “The fit is perfect for my family and me, and we look forward to building on everything EKU has to offer, both on and off the basketball court. It truly is a great day to be a Colonel.”
Before joining Keatts in Raleigh, Hamilton was the head coach of one of the top prep basketball programs in the country, Hargrave Military Academy, from 2011 to 2017.
Hargrave reached unprecedented levels of success during Hamilton’s six-year tenure, compiling a record of 237-22, averaging 40 wins per season and winning the 2016 National Prep Championship.
Hamilton’s Hargrave teams posted eye-popping numbers, setting the school record for wins in a season (47 / 2016) and points scored in a single game (163 / 2017). His 2015-16 squad averaged 114 points per game. Across the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, the Tigers won 45 straight games and went 364 days between losses.
Hamilton was named the National Prep Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2016.
“The process of identifying a new men’s basketball coach began with the following
principles: head coaching experience, knowledge of Kentucky, and a fit within the Eastern Kentucky University and Richmond communities,” Lochmueller said. “A.W. Hamilton was one of the candidates who met all three criteria and possessed the needed skills to be successful at EKU. His knowledge of the game, recruiting prowess and focus on the well-being and development of student-athletes were obvious. His energy and passion for the game of basketball has never wavered, from Scott County High School to North Carolina State. President Benson and I welcome A.W., his wife, Chelsea, and their two daughters, Charleigh and Andi, to the EKU family!”
Before being named head coach at Hargrave, Hamilton was an assistant under Keatts at the school from 2006 to 2011.
During Hamilton’s 11 years with the program, Hargrave produced 113 NCAA Division I players, 33 NCAA Division II players, one McDonald’s All-American, one Parade All-American and nine NBA players.
On Sept. 21, 2017, Hamilton was inducted into the Hargrave Military Academy Basketball Hall of Fame.
Hamilton starred at Scott County High School in the late 1990s, leading the Cardinals to a state championship in 1998 and a state runner-up finish in 1999. He was named first team all-state and played in the prestigious Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Game following his senior season.
On Sept. 4, 2015, Hamilton was inducted into the Scott County High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Hamilton was the starting point guard for Keatts at Hargrave Military Academy during the 1999-2000 season, leading the Tigers to a 23-3 record and a No. 2 national ranking. While at Hargrave, Hamilton signed a full scholarship to play basketball at Wake Forest University.
After a year and a half at Wake Forest, Hamilton transferred to Marshall University. He was a three-year captain for the Thundering Herd (2002-05), and he led the team in assists, steals and minutes played all three seasons he was there. Hamilton ranks in the top 10 in school history in assists and in the top 20 in steals. Following his playing days in Huntington, Hamilton served as Marshall’s graduate assistant for one season (2005-06).
Hamilton earned a B.S. in communications from Marshall in 2005.
A.W. Hamilton Philosophy
I believe one must be enthusiastic if he’s going to coach basketball. A coach must have a thorough knowledge of the game of basketball in regard to every aspect. No detail is too small. No task is too small or too big. If you let a player make a mistake more than once without correction, I feel it could cost you the game. The players must be taught to do things correctly and to do them that way every time. Doing a thing nearly right and doing it right is the difference between success and failure.
I may lose a game because the opponent has more talent, but I will never lose a game by someone out-working me. I feel the will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win; if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail. I believe you must always ask yourself, “Is what I am doing or about to do getting us closer to our objective – winning?” If you accept defeat and cash your paycheck without feeling guilty, then you are stealing. I am not a good loser. I always strive to maintain a professional manner, but I am never a good loser. I simply hate to lose. If you don’t play to win then why keep score?
You must accomplish things in your life. Otherwise, you are like the paper on the wall. If “better” is possible then “good” isn’t enough. Anything you can do, you can do better. I believe you must never let yourself be satisfied and you must always strive to improve. If you do not then you are only moving backwards. You have to be critical of yourself. You have to call it as it is. Then you can grow and improve from there. If you make excuses for yourself, you’re telling yourself that everything is really alright when it is not – you’re going nowhere. You can’t ever let yourself be satisfied. The higher the standards you have the better you become. I don’t believe in luck. Luck will get you over a ditch, IF YOU JUMP HARD ENOUGH.
I believe defense is the single most important factor in the success or failure of a basketball team. I feel that building a competitive basketball team requires a heavy emphasis on the defense. A team that makes the fewest mistakes will win most consistently, and a team that plays hard, sound defense will make fewer mistakes. At the same time, this team will force its opponents into making mistakes. It should be the goal of every team to control the game and I feel that this can best be achieved by an aggressive defense. Defense is a three part program:
- Stop the transitional or fast-break basket.
- Take away (as much as possible) what the offense is designed to do on their offensive end of the floor.
- Limit a team to just one shot with tenacious defensive rebounding.
Second only to God in my life is basketball. Leisure time for me is the six hours that I sleep every night. I feel a coach must have a tremendous desire to excel and to improve. He must strive for perfection. Basketball for me is a way of life!