MBB: McNeese adds assistant coach from SEC school

Courtesy: McNeeseSports.com

McNeese basketball head coach John Aiken has announced the addition of Thomas Gray to his coaching staff.

Gray comes to McNeese after spending the last three seasons on the staff at Ole Miss.

“Thomas has coached some really good players, has been a part of a lot of wins and he has created great cultures in his time as a coach,” said Aiken. “He will wear a lot of hats with our program and will be a guy that will bring great passion and energy daily.

“I’ve known Thomas for more than a decade and have grown to appreciate who he is as a coach, but more importantly, as a man. He will be a tremendous asset to our program and community.”

Gray compiled a 61-39 record in four years at Southwest Mississippi C.C. before joining the Ole Miss staff, guiding the Bears to the NJCAA Region 23 semifinals in each of his final two seasons. During his tenure, Gray coached 15 players that went on to earn NCAA Division I scholarships, the most of any Region 23 team over the last four years. Student-athletes excelled on and off the court under Gray’s tutelage with all but two holding grade point averages that exceeded 3.0 throughout his time as Southwest’s head coach.

In 2017-18, Southwest got off to its best start in more than 20 years by winning 12 of its first 13 games. Gray led the Bears to their third straight season of at least 17 wins, the first time Southwest accomplished that feat in three decades. The season was highlighted by the largest comeback in college basketball history. Down 34 points against Pearl River with 14 minutes left, the Bears rallied to win, breaking a 68-year-old record set by Duke (32 points vs. Tulane) in 1950. During the 2016-17 campaign, Southwest finished runner-up in the MACJC South Division, the highest division finish since 2001, with an 18-9 record.

His team was named the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Academic Team of the Year for the second consecutive year with a team GPA of 3.59, the second-highest cumulative GPA in the history of NJCAA Men’s Basketball. The Bears became the first MACJC men’s basketball team to ever win the award in 2015-16, boasting a 3.42 GPA. In just his second season as Southwest head coach, Gray led the Bears to a MACJC State Championship for the first time in 53 years.

After spending three seasons as an assistant at SMCC, Gray was named assistant coach at UT Martin until he got the call back to Summit to become the school’s head coach. He began working in the college basketball world as a graduate assistant at Mississippi College, where he earned his master’s degree in 2011. Gray also attended Mississippi College as an undergraduate, collecting a bachelor’s degree in 2009.

Gray’s addition completes Aiken’s first staff as he joins Michael Moynihan, Tevon Sadler and Emmanuel Tommy.

He and his wife, Ashley, are the proud parents of daughter Charlotte, born in the spring of 2020.