May 3, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Leonard Hamilton, who has guided the Florida State men’s basketball team into postseason play twice in the last three seasons, will be inducted in the University of Miami Hall of Fame on May 8. Hamilton is the second all-time winningest basketball coach in Miami history having guided the Hurricanes to 144 wins and three NCAA Tournament appearances in 10 years in Coral Gables. He is credited with bringing the Miami program back into the national limelight during his coaching tenure only five years after the program had been dropped from 1971-1985.
The induction will mark a monumental occasion for Hamilton who will earn induction into his third collegiate Hall of Fame. He is already a Hall of Fame inductee at the University of Tennessee at Martin where he received his bachelor’s degree and served as the captain of the basketball team as an undergraduate player. Additionally, he is a member of the Hall of Fame at Austin Peay State University where he began his coaching career and served as an assistant coach for the Governors. Hamilton helped lead Austin Peay to two Ohio Valley Conference Championships and recruited and coached James “Fly” Williams who is still the only two-time All-American in school history.
Under Hamilton’s leadership, Miami became one of the nation’s top programs, advancing to postseason play five times in his final six seasons including three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Miami’s winning records in his final six seasons meant the Hurricanes joined Syracuse and Connecticut as the only Big East teams to have winning records from 1995-2000. Hamilton was named the UPI National Coach of the Year in 1995 and the Big East Coach of the Year in both 1995 and 1999.
“I am very thankful to be honored in this way by the University of Miami,” said Hamilton. “My family and I have very fond memories of the institution and the many great people who touched our lives while we were there. The people who touched are lives during our time there are those we consider to be among our best friends to this day. I am also very thankful to every member of my staff that I have worked so closely with and for the sacrifices that they and their families have made in helping our teams be successful. Most importantly, I will be forever grateful to the players who I have been so fortunate to work with during my career. The players and their families have been the most important parts of my programs throughout my career. It will be a very special night for me.”
Hamilton was named Florida State’s seventh head coach on March 19, 2002. He has led the Seminoles to the NIT in both 2004 and 2006 marking the first time the Seminoles had played in the post season since 1998. During the 2006 season he guided Florida State to a 20-10 overall record and a 9-7 mark in the ACC. The 20 wins was the most by the Seminoles since 1997 and the 9-7 record and fifth place finish in the ACC standings was the third best in school history. In 2004 season, he led Florida State to a 19-14 record and coached Tim Pickett, only the second player in school history to earn All-ACC First-Team honors. Hamilton led Florida State to the second victory in school history over the Nation’s No. 1 ranked team with a win over Duke on March 1, 2006. In his first four years as Florida State’s head coach, he has led the Seminoles to seven victories over nationally ranked teams.
Hamilton has enjoyed immense success off the court during his career as well. With the recent graduations of Todd Galloway and Diego Romero, Hamilton continued his streak of graduating every player who has played under him since his arrival at Florida State. Since his arrival in Tallahassee, 19 of 19 seniors have earned their degrees and one – Andrew Wilson – earned his master’s degree in last week’s graduation ceremonies. While at Miami, Hamilton’s graduation rate was very close to perfect with 28 of 31 seniors earning their degrees.
His recruiting efforts have not only led to success for his players and teams at the collegiate level but also at the professional level in the NBA. He has had more than 40 of his players drafted by NBA teams including Tim Pickett and Von Wafer in the last two years at Florida State and Tim James and John Salmons (both first round draft choices) during his career at Miami.
Hamilton will be inducted along with former Hurricane baseball player Alex Cora, current women’s track and field coach Amy Deem and former football players Ryan McNeil and Darrin Smith among others. He is the first member of the basketball program – player or coach – to be inducted into the UM Hall of Fame.