Steve Hardin is in his third season as the head men’s basketball coach at Lees-McRae College.
Up tempo is a good term to describe Coach Hardin on and off the court. He has the reputation from his peers as a tireless worker and relentless recruiter. His passion for the student-athlete perfectly mirrors the Bobcat Athletics’ drive for comprehensive excellence – academically, athletically and socially. Expect Hardin’s program to excel in all aspects of the student-athlete experience. His focus is on finding “winning guys” on and off the court.
“Steve is one of the best up and coming young coaches in our business. I have known Steve since I first got into coaching at Tennessee Tech University. He is a great recruiter and an outstanding coach. I have always loved his competitive energy and spirit about the game. He is a family man and has great leadership qualities to be a successful coach. Lees-McRae has a great one in Steve Hardin.” - Orlando G.G. Smith (Head Coach, Loyola University)
"Steve has the coaching gene in his blood being the son of a coach. I saw firsthand at Tennessee Tech his passion for the game. There was no doubt that this profession would be his destiny."- Jeff Lebo (Head Coach, East Carolina)
“Coach Hardin is a tireless worker who has the best interest of the student athletes in mind. He recruits high character and talented players that will succeed on and off the floor.”- Scott Cherry (Head Coach, High Point University, 1993 National Champion for UNC)
“Coach Hardin eats, sleeps and lives basketball. He’s a hustler on the recruiting trail and as the son of a high school coach he’s extremely detailed on the X’s& O’s of the game.”- Jason Allison (Recruiting Coordinator/Assistant Coach, Appalachian State University, former Lees-McRae assistant coach)
“Coach Hardin will do a tremendous job bringing the passion and “fire” to Lees-McRae basketball through his work ethic and energy; He is an extremely hard worker on the court and on the recruiting trail.”- Will Wade (Head Coach, Virginia Commonwealth University)
“I’ve known Steve for over 20 years and is a guy I grew up playing with, his dad helped teach the game to all of us in high school. He is a guy I respect immensely and proud to call a friend. Lees McRae is lucky to have him as their head coach"- Micheal Morrell (Assistant coach, University Of Texas)
Coach Hardin’s coaching philosophy and brand for the Lees-McRae Bobcat basketball team is “FIRE”, which simply means Fearless Intense Relentless Effort. Fans can expect an up-tempo, in-your-face game from Hardin and his players, as he wants to create consistent confusion in his fusion defense. Coach Hardin’s teams will have an identity with “FIRE” that can be an exciting brand of basketball for both the school and the fans.
The 2014-2015 season was one for the record and history books. Coach Hardin’s squad broke the school record for wins in a season. LMC also finished the highest ever in conference Carolinas. Lees-McRae lead the conference and ranked nationally in steals (10.5) as Coach Hardin’s team also valued the basketball in leading the conference with fewest turnovers a game (11.2) the ‘14-15 team tied for the most points per game. (82.9). The Bobcats ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in nine categories. Coach Hardin proved that Lees-McRae basketball can defend, take care of the basketball, score and rebound extremely consistently. Coach Hardin’s seniors stepped up for the program huge while Jacquise Moore led all of the NCAA in steals (3.3). Moore earned Conference Carolinas first-team honors while point guard Sean Deniton earned third team and academic honors.
2013-2014 season under Hardin brought twelve new faces to the team. The Bobcats started off the season with the best record start in school history at 6-2 and 3-1 mark vs region contenders out of the South Atlantic Conference. Under Coach Hardin's FIRE system the team averaged 81 points per contest, shot 780 Free throws (No. 1 in Conference Carolinas and No. 41 NCAA) at 72.6%, 9.6 steals per game (No. 1 in Conference Carolinas and No. 36 NCAA). Moore (Concord, N.C.) led the Conference Carolinas in steals 2.3 per contest. A balanced scoring attack lead the Bobcats with posting five players averaging over 10 points per game.
During the 2012-2013 season, the Bobcats posted a combined grade-point average of 3.0 as a team in Coach Hardin’s first year at the helm, graduating eight seniors. Illawong, Australia native Daniel Sepokas ranked eighth in the conference in scoring to lead the Bobcats.
Hardin joined the Bobcats during the 2010-2011 season following a successful stint at Bluefield College in Bluefield, Va. as the head women’s basketball coach. During his three-year tenure at Bluefield, Hardin earned Appalachian Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors while leading the Rams to their highest finish in the AAC standings.
Under Hardin's leadership, the Rams were ranked in the NAIA for the first time in school history and also earned the program's first AAC Champions of Character award in 2010, while holding a No. 3 ranking in the NCCAA throughout the season and earning the school's first-ever berth in the NCCAA Tournament.
During the 2009-2010 season, the Rams also posted the best record in program history with a 25-10 overall mark that tops school history wins for a season. All of these accomplishments occurred in just two years as Hardin took over the program which had posted two wins the previous season, compiling a 40-26 record while at the helm.
Hardin played an integral role as the associate head coach with the men's basketball program at Bluefield, helping the Rams to three straight NAIA Tournament appearances with a squad that posted a combined 92-41 record over that span.
Bluefield claimed three straight AAC championships during Hardin's tenure while ranking eighth in the NAIA national poll, marking the first appearance in the top 10 in school history. The Rams led the nation in a multitude of statistical categories while Hardin was on the sidelines, topping the NAIA ranks in both scoring offense (91.4) and total blocks (171) in 2008-2009 while leading the nation in rejections per game (6.9) in 2005-2006.
While at Bluefield, Hardin recruited and coached 18 all-Appalachian Athletic Conference players, three AAC Defensive Players of the Year, four AAC Offensive Players of the Year, 14 NCCAA All-Americans, five NAIA All-Americans, seven NAIA Academic All-Americans, and two AAC Players of the Year.
Prior to his appointment as the head women’s coach at Bluefield, Hardin served as the associate head men’s basketball coach, junior varsity basketball coach, and head men’s golf coach at the Bluefield, Va. school from 2005-2008.
Hardin entered the coaching ranks as a student assistant with the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech. While at Tennessee Tech, Hardin was part of back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference championship squads and a quarterfinal finish in the NIT. The Golden Eagles posted a 47-16 overall record and a 28-4 mark in the OVC.
The Elizabethton, Tenn. native has coached 18 players that have played and/or still playing professional basketball with one playing in the National Basketball Association’s D-League.
Hardin is following in the footsteps of his father, Tony Hardin, a former high school coach in Tennessee for over 30 years. Prior to Tennessee Tech, Hardin served as an assistant coach with his father, who owns a career record of 520-290.
Hardin is married to the former Tanika Andrews, a teacher in Bristol, Tenn. They are the proud parents of Lyla Gail Hardin and Campbell Steven Hardin. The Hardin family resides in Elizabethton, Tenn.
Keith 'Mister' Jennings enters his first season as assistant men's basketball coach at Lees-McRae.
“We continue to make great strides in turning around our men’s basketball program and today is no different. To be able to hire Keith and watch his relationship with Coach Steve Hardin grow, will be fun for all,” praised Vice President Director of Athletics and Club Sports Craig McPhail. “I am especially looking forward to the growth and development of our young men on our team as I see their progression reaching new heights.”
Jennings is no stranger to success while playing in the National Basketball Association with the Golden State Warriors (1992-95) and the Denver Nuggets (1996-97). During his time at Golden State, Jennings was an assist machine while dishing out 614 while grabbing 248 rebounds. He shot 85.2% from the charity stripe and appeared in 164 games in three seasons. During the 1994-95 season, Jennings knocked down 75 three-pointers while amassing 589 points and turning in 1722 minutes.
He earned All-Star accolades on four occasions while playing European Professional Basketball. He led Brandt Hagen (Germany) to a playoff appearance in 1991 before garnering the three-point champion award and a second round playoff appearance with Estudiantes (Spain) during the 1995-96 season.
In 1999, Jennings was tabbed Player of the Year while playing for Le Man (France) and took his squad to the second round of the playoffs.
Prior to playing professionally, Jennings wrote his name in the record books at East Tennessee State University. He led the Buccaneers to three consecutive Southern Conference championships (1989-91), while earning the Southern Conference Player of the Year and Southern Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player award as a senior (1991). In 1991, he earned Second-Team All-American merits by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and the Associated Press.
Jennings ranks fourth all-time in ETSU program scoring (1,988 points) and holds multiple records, including career totals for assists (983) and steals (334), single season records for assists per game (9.1) and steals per game (3.4), and single game marks for assists (19) and free throws made (18). Jennings was lights out from beyond the arc, owning a career 3-point field goal percentage of 49.3. His mark of 59 percent from 3-point-range led the country in 1991.
"Coach Jennings is a close and loyal friend and I am extremely excited to have him. We have talked about building a program together for some time and now we have the opportunity! Keith brings a wealth of basketball experience: his playing resume speaks for itself and is very knowledgeable about the game,” said Hardin. “'Mister' is a valuable asset in all phases and embodies our FIRE program. I am extremely blessed to add Coach Jennings to the staff."
Following his playing career, Jennings has stayed close to home while being the head coach for the boy’s varsity team at Highland School in Warrenton, Va. (2004-07) and the assistant coach at Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tenn. (2008-09). Jennings returned to ETSU in 2008 as a graduate assistant coach.
Jennings wore multiple hats at Bluefield College (2009-14) in Bluefield, Va. while he was the head coach for the men’s JV team and assistant coach to the varsity squad. The Rams won the Appalachian Athletic Conference Championship in 2009-10.
Waln enters his first season as men's basketball assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Lees-McRae.
Waln is a native of Ashe, N.C. and has spent the previous three seasons as a coach at Ashe County High helping lead them to three MVAC titles. He spent his previous two years as an AAU coach for the 15U Ashe County Lightning.
Most recently, Waln spent time coaching the East Coast Fusion 17U squad, based out of Richmond, Va., that competed in some of the nation's most prestigious prep basketball tournaments.
“This is a big step up for me in my career and I am so happy and blessed to be a part of the Lees-McRae basketball program,” said Waln. “I have had the opportunity to learn from some of the top coaches in the game and feel like I am prepared for this great new challenge.”
Waln also spent time learning from assistant coaches Tim Lawrence (Robert Morris University), Tyler Sanborn (Hampden-Sydney College) and Rhett Bonner (Virginia Wesleyan) as well as top North Carolina high school coach Marc Payne.
In addition to his coaching experience, Waln also got the
opportunity to be a basketball camp counselor during clinics at
Randolph-Macon College and Hampden-Sydney College.
He graduated from Appalachian State in Fall 2014 with a degree in Physical Education and Health.
What they're saying about Waln:
"Daniel is a excellent addition to our staff! Having the
opportunity to play and coach for Coach Marc Payne at Ashe County,
Daniel is seasoned in the day-to-day coaching regiment and ready to
take the next step in his coaching career. Coach Waln is a young
enthusiastic relentless recruiter and a high energy personality
that brings added passion to our rising program. He has recruiting
ties in Florida, Virginia, and locally by playing, coaching in the
area at the high school and AAU level. Daniel will be a valuable
asset in every phase of the program. Coach Waln is the
perfect fit for my FIRE system and I am blessed to have Daniel
apart of Lees McRae and our basketball program."
Steve Hardin, Lees-McRae College, Head Coach
"Daniel will be a great addition to the Lees-McRae staff. He will add an amplified amount of passion to their program. I know he will bring a ton of energy to the recruiting trail, and will excel through persistence. I look forward to watching his and Lees-McRae's progress." – Tyler Sanborn, Hampden-Sydney College Assistant Coach
“I have known Daniel for a few years now and during that
time he has demonstrated an uncommon enthusiasm and passion for the
game of basketball. This passion and ability to recruit paired with
his work ethic will bode very well for success at
Lees-McRae.” – Tim Lawrence, Robert Morris
University, Assistant Coach
"I'm very excited about Daniel getting his chance to put his mark on a college basketball program. I knew it was only a matter of time before he broke into the profession. In Daniel's short time as a coach, he has developed a body of experience and knowledge that will bring continued success and growth to whatever program he is associated with. He will do an excellent job and represent Lees-McRae College in a first class manner." – Rhett Bonner, Virginia Wesleyan, Assistant Coach
Waln's duties will include: Recruiting coordinator, scouting, coaching point guards, day-to-day operations of the program, local outreach and assisting in every phase of our program.
Matt Hamilton enters his first year as junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant men's basketball coach at Lees-McRae College.
Hamilton joins the Lees-McRae basketball staff after three years as a student manager at Appalachian State University. Under head coach Jason Capel, Hamilton served many different roles in the program during his tenure there. He assisted in scouting reports, game film editing, practice, skill development, scheduling team shoot around and practice times, and helping with the strength and conditioning program. Hamilton was in charge of the teams film exchange program, opponents play calls, in game defensive matchups and was the head manager his last season at ASU.
Hamilton began his coaching career at the age of 16 when he was an assistant coach for Marvin Ridge High School in Waxhaw, N.C. for his junior and senior year of high school. During this time, he helped the staff with leading practices and in game management. During his time in high school, he was a head AAU coach for a local team where he was in control of all game and player management.
During the past four years, Matt has worked numerous college basketball camps during the summer like Clemson, ASU, Duke, Florida, NC State, VCU and UNCC; which includes working camps that he has attended such as the Rising Coaches Elite Conference in Las Vegas where he was able to learn about basketball and the day-to-day operations from multiple high major head and assistant coaches.
Matt was born in Boston, Mass., but moved to Charlotte, N.C. 10 years ago. He is the son of Blair and Beth Hamilton. he has three brothers Brian, Garrett, and Luke. Matt received his degree in Physical Education with a minor in Psychology from Appalachian State University.
Coach Steve Hardin quote:
"Matt brings hands on experience in every phase of a college program and we are excited to have him apart of Lees McRae and the staff. Coach Hamilton is extremely detailed workaholic. He brings to our program advanced scouting film breakdown capabilities that will help take us to the next step in my FIRE system. Matt has a much needed recruiting base in Charlotte. Matt is a basketball junkie and a grinder that understands what is needed for us to be successful. Coach Hamilton is another key piece Lees Mcrae and my staff. We are blessed to have Matt joining the program."