As the NCAA slogan goes, “Most athletes are going pro in something other than sports.” That has been the case for three former Southwestern Oklahoma State University men’s basketball players who have stayed close to the sport since finishing their playing careers.
Chris Hamilton, Bruce Harrington and Terry Long all attended SWOSU to play collegiate basketball, but it has been their performance after college that has truly been of note. All three coaches led their teams to first-ever state titles in boys basketball last month.
Hamilton graduated from SWOSU in 1990 after a four-year career as a forward under SWOSU Hall of Fame coach, George Hauser. In his final season, Hamilton was the lone senior on a team that went 8-19, scoring a season-high 27 points against Oral Roberts. He was the Bulldogs’ third leading scorer, pouring in 284 total points and averaging 14.9 points per game. He also posted a team-high 33 blocks as he would go on to earn an Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference (OIC) Honorable Mention.
In March, his Heritage Hall team trailing by six points headed into the fourth quarter of the 3A state championship game against Verdigris, Hamilton looked for a spark to get the Chargers going. Hamilton found the answer in Calon Woodson, who had a hand in 11 of the Chargers’ 23 fourth quarter points. Heritage Hall finally took the lead with 5:40 left in the game en route to a 71-60 victory and the Chargers’ first-ever boys basketball state title and a 22-6 record.
Harrington played basketball for the Bulldogs from 1978-1981 after transferring from Midwestern State University following the 1977-78 season. Over his three year career, he primarily served as a backup guard. However, he saved his best for last, recording career highs in points (103) and assists (71) as a senior for the Bulldogs in 1980-81.
After weathering an 11-0 run by No. 1 Carl Albert in the 5A state championship game, Lawton Eisenhower freshman R.J. Fisher scored the go-ahead bucket with less than a minute left in regulation. Harrington had kept his team offensively balanced all season, and it did much of the same in the championship as two of his players, Douglas Moore and Jamey Woods, put up 10 points each. Harrington became the first boys basketball coach to claim a state title at Lawton Ike, with the Eagles having finished as runners-up on three other trips to the final. Lawton Ike finished the season with a 24-4 record.
Long transferred to SWOSU for the 1986-87 season and played two seasons for the Bulldogs before spending an additional season as a graduate assistant. In his senior season, Long filled up the box score with 7.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, leading the team in total assists and ranking in the top three in both total points and rebounds on his way to Second Team All-OIC honors. He served as an assistant coach during Hamilton’s senior season in 1990.
Long’s Mustang High School squad was one for the history books this season as they went a perfect 28-0 to become just the fourth team in 6A boys basketball to finish the season undefeated. Like many of their games this season, the Broncos dominated Edmond Santa Fe, beating the Wolves by a 93-54 score. It was Long’s fourth state title in six years, but this one included his son Jakolby Long who is on the team and scored 11 points in the victory. The Broncos had never played for a state title in boys’ basketball until this year, and they were able to claim the gold ball in their first try.
“It’s always great to see former Bulldog basketball players doing well,” said current SWOSU head coach Bob Battisti. “It’s a good reflection on Bulldog Nation. I signed one of Harrington’s players last year with Keyshawn Perkins, and it’s a testament to his ability as a coach that Keyshawn was able to contribute right away. They’ve all done really well this year and I couldn’t be happier for them!”