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Leonard Hamilton
Title Head coach
College Florida State
Sport Basketball
Born August 4, 1948 (1948-08-04) (age 61)
Place of birth Gaston County, North Carolina, USA
Career highlights
UPI National Coach of the Year (1995)
Big East Coach of the Year (1995, 1999)

ACC Coach of the Year (2009)

Playing career
Gaston CC
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Austin Peay (asst.)
Kentucky (asst.)
Oklahoma State
Miami (FL)
Washington Wizards
Florida State

Leonard Hamilton (born August 4, 1948, in Gaston County, North Carolina) is currently the head basketball coach at Florida State University. He is a former coach at Oklahoma State University and the University of Miami. He also coached the NBA's Washington Wizards for one season. He had lead his teams to 9 NITs and 4 NCAA tournaments. Hamilton has also been to the Sweet 16. While with the Wizards he went 19–63.


Hamilton played college basketball at the University of Tennessee-Martin. Leonard Hamilton came to Austin Peay in 1971-72 as a graduate assistant before being elevated to full-time assistant from 1972-74. His reputation as being a “players coach” was forged during his APSU days when he was largely responsible for bringing in the likes of James “Fly” Williams, Danny Odums, Ralph several other stars of that era that propelled Austin Peay basketball to national prominence and helped spark “Peaymania.”

His efforts helped APSU to a 49-31 record during his tenure and back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, the Governors’ first as a Division I program. Hamilton also served as APSU freshman coach in 1971-72.

Hamilton left APSU after the 1973-74 season to become assistant coach and chief recruiter at Kentucky. He became the program’s first associate coach head (1980-86). At Kentucky, his efforts played a huge role in the Wildcats’ 1978 NCAA championship.

After 12 seasons at Kentucky, he accepted the challenge of his first college head coaching assignment at Oklahoma State, who led the Cowboys to two straight NIT appearances.

Hamilton was an assistant coach and associate head coach at the University of Kentucky from 1974-1986 under then Head coach Joe B. Hall. Hamilton is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Hamilton was named ACC Coach of the Year March 10th, 2009. Hamilton is the first coach to be named coach of the year in the Big East and ACC.

In 1990, he accepted he basketball program at the University of Miami. In his final season at Miami, Hamilton guided the Hurricanes to their second straight 20-win season, a share of the Big East regular season championship and the school's first trip to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Hurricanes finished 23-11, including a 13-3 conference record, and were ranked 23rd in the nation in the final Associated Press poll and 20th in the final USA Today/ESPN poll. Miami's 23 wins matched the team's 1998-99 total and, at the time, tied the school record for victories in a season.

Under Hamilton's leadership, Miami became a consistent winner, advancing to postseason play five times in his final six seasons including three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 1998-2000. Miami's winning records in his final six seasons meant the Hurricanes joined Syracuse and Connecticut as the only Big East schools to have an overall winning record from 1995-2000. The Hurricanes' 48-22 Big East mark over his last four seasons tied Connecticut for the best conference record over that period. Over his last two seasons, Miami registered a league-best 28-6 conference record for an .824 winning percentage.

In his final season with Miami, Hamilton's Hurricanes recorded three wins over ranked teams including a 74-70 home win over No. 18 St. John's, marking the sixth straight season Miami had defeated a ranked opponent in the Miami Arena.

In the 40 seasons prior to Hamilton's arrival, the Hurricanes reached the post-season just four times including one NCAA tournament appearance (1960). In his ten seasons at Miami, Hamilton led the Hurricanes to five postseason appearances.

Along with the rise of the Hurricanes' program, Hamilton's players also continued to develop and win individual awards. In 1999-2000, guard Johnny Hemsley earned All-Big East Second-Team honors while center Mario Bland earned All-Conference Third-Team honors

In 1998-99, Hemsley and forward Tim James earned All-Big East First-Team honors. The Hurricanes joined Syracuse (eight times), Georgetown (twice), Pittsburgh, St. John's and Villanova as the only schools to have two players earn All-Big East First-Team honors in the same season. In ten seasons under Hamilton, the Hurricanes had 13 All-Conference selections.

In 1998-99, Tim James was named Big East Co-Player of the Year, along with Connecticut's Richard Hamilton, and Johnny Hemsley was selected as the league's Most Improved Player.

Miami's rise began in 1994-95 when Hamilton led the Hurricanes to the greatest single season turnaround in Big East history. Picked to finish at the bottom of the Big East Conference standings, Hamilton guided the Hurricanes to a fifth-place finish and a berth in the National Invitational Tournament - Miami's first post-season appearance in 31 years.

Miami set a Big East record in 1995 for the greatest single-season improvement in league history. The Hurricanes' nine-win conference win increase tied Louisiana Tech for the best in the nation. Miami's eight-win overall improvement tied for the third best single season increase in school history.

At the conclusion of the 1995 season, Hamilton was named the United Press International National Coach of the Year. His peers also recognized Hamilton as the league coaches tabbed him Big East Conference Coach of the Year for the first time.

Hamilton took home even more hardware at the end of the 1999 season. He was named Big East Coach of the Year for the second time joining Jim Calhoun, Lou Carnesecca, Jim Boeheim, John Thompson, P.J. Carlesimo and Al Skinner as the only coaches to win the award more than once. Hamilton was later honored as the Eastern Basketball Coach of the Year. In 2000, he was named the Black Coaches Association (BCA) Coach of the Year.

Hamilton understands that defense wins championships. Under his tutelage, the Hurricanes became one of the nation's top defensive teams. Miami ranked nationally in field goal percentage defense in each of his last four seasons including a No. 1 national ranking in 1997-98. In his final season, the Hurricanes ranked 22nd in the nation in field goal percentage defense holding teams to 39.4 percent shooting. In 1998-99, the Hurricanes ranked 13th in the nation, holding teams to 38.4 percent shooting. Since his arrival at Florida State, the Seminoles have become the toughest team to score against and led the league in scoring defense in 2003.

The 1997-98 Hurricanes ranked No. 1 in the nation in field goal percentage defense holding opponents to 37.9 percent shooting from the floor. The 1996-97 Hurricanes ranked No. 6 in the nation in field goal percentage defense holding opponents to just 38.0 percent shooting.

In 2000-01, he sought another challenge and accepted the coaching position of the Washington Wizards in the NBA. He found that he did not like the game and the atmosphere of the NBA and left after just one year.

Hamilton was hired on March 19, 2002 to return the Seminole men's basketball program to the glory it had earned when it played for the 1972 national championship and regularly competed for, and won, conference championships during the 1980's and early 1990's.

Hamilton, one of the top 25 all-time winningest coaches in Atlantic Coast Conference history, has led the Florida State men's basketball program to three consecutive post-season appearances as he continues to cement the Seminoles as one of the top basketball programs in the nation. Hamilton has guided four of his first six Seminole teams into postseason play as he continues to return Florida State to a program of significance both nationally and in the ACC.

Hamilton won his 300th career game as he guided Florida State over Virginia on Jan. 23, 2008. He then coached his 600th career game as he led the Seminoles past Wake Forest in the first round of the ACC Tournament on March 13.

Hamilton's players have also succeeded at a high level since his arrival at Florida State. He was at the 2007 NBA Draft to watch as Al Thornton—one of his prized pupils—became only the second Draft Lottery selection in school history as he was picked with the 14th overall selection by the Los Angeles Clippers. In 2007, Thornton earned All-America Third-Team and All-ACC First-Team honors and was the runner-up choice as the ACC Player of the Year. Hamilton has coached two of the three players (Thornton and Tim Pickett in 2004) who have earned All-ACC Honors in school history. Last season, he coached guard Toney Douglas who earned All-ACC First Team honors, was named to the All-ACC Defensive Team and led the ACC in steals.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Paul Hansen
Oklahoma State Cowboys Head Basketball Coach
Succeeded by
Eddie Sutton
Preceded by
Bill Foster
Miami Hurricanes Head Basketball Coach
Succeeded by
Perry Clark
Preceded by
Darrell Walker
Washington Wizards Head Coach
Succeeded by
Doug Collins
Preceded by
Steve Robinson
Florida State Seminoles Head Basketball Coach
Succeeded by


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