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The Voice of the Black Community


Winston-Salem State hires Cleo Hill Jr. as basketball coach
Takes over team that finished 5-22 last season
Published Tuesday, May 22, 2018 11:00 am
by Herbert L. White

Cleo Hill Jr. is back as a CIAA basketball coach.

Hill, who was introduced as Winston-Salem State’s new coach Monday, takes over a program that went 5-22 last season and lost in the first round of the CIAA tournament. He takes over for James Wilhelmi, whose contract wasn’t renewed.

“There were 104 applicants for the position, which speaks to the excitement around Winston-Salem State University basketball,” Athletics Director Tonia Walker said. “After a thorough search process, there was no doubt that we have found the best candidate to usher in a new era for men’s basketball. Cleo Hill Jr. has been successful at nearly all levels of college basketball—as a player, assistant coach, and head coach.”

Hill coached at Shaw from 2008-15, where he led the Bears to a 116-67 and won the 2011 CIAA championship and berth in the NCAA Division II tournament. He was fired after taking the Bears to a 13-15 season.

Before Shaw, Hill coached at Cheyney (Pa.) for five seasons, where the Wolves went 55-67 with a pair of Division II tournament appearances. His best season was a 23-8 campaign in 2003-04. Hill also was an assistant coach at Nebraska.

“We are thrilled to have Cleo Hill Jr. on board,” said WSSU Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson. “He is uniquely qualified to lead our men’s basketball program. He understands WSSU’s legacy as a basketball powerhouse, and possesses the leadership, skill, and experience to take our men’s basketball program to the next level.”

Hill, who played at N.C. Central, earned a spot on the South Atlantic Region all-tournament team as a senior and is still among the school’s all-time leading scorers. The native of Orange, New Jersey, is the son of 2017 National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Cleo Hill Sr., a guard who scored 2,488 points in his career at WSSU, second only to Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. The elder Hill, who died in 2015, was the eighth overall pick in the 1961 NBA draft by the St. Louis Hawks, the first player from an HBCU taken in the first round. 

The younger Hill takes over one of the CIAA’s marquee programs, which has 11 CIAA titles and won the 1967 Division II championship. WSSU returns four starters and seven seniors from last year’s team.


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