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Cleary names new head basketball coach

Cleary names new head basketball coach

Cleary University has named a head coach to their newly formed men’s basketball team.

Cleary’s Athletic Director Heather Bateman announced that Carl Thomas will be the first head coach of the recently announced Cougar men’s basketball program.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Coach Carl Thomas into the Cleary University family as our first head men’s basketball coach,” said Bateman. “Carl brings a plethora of coaching experience, including at the (NCAA) Division 1 level. Thomas’ enthusiasm, experience, and recruiting ties make him a perfect fit for our University and Athletic department.”

Thomas spent the past six seasons on NCAA Division 1 Duquesne University’s coaching staff as the assistant to Head Coach Keith Dambrot.  Prior to his time at Duquesne, Thomas was the head coach for NJCAA Jackson College (4 seasons), and was an assistant at NJCAA Owens Community College (2 seasons).   Thomas has also spent time as an assistant at his alma mater, NCAA Division 1 Eastern Michigan University from 2005-2011 (6 seasons), and at NCAA Division 1 Maryland Eastern Shore (1 season).

“I’d like to thank Dr. (Alan) Drimmer and Heather (Bateman) for this opportunity,” said Thomas.  “To be trusted as the first head coach in the program’s history is a tremendous honor.  I look forward to building this program, competing at the highest level in the WHAC, in the nation, and ensuring we do everything in our power to represent the Howell and Livingston County communities.”

As a player, Thomas was a prep standout at Lansing Everett High School, and was named the Capitol Conference Player of the Year during his senior year while helping the Vikings to a state semifinals appearance in 1987.  After high school, Thomas, and his twin brother Charles, both attended Eastern Michigan University, where they played for head coach Ben Braun and current Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot, and helped the Eagles (then Hurons) to the Mid-American Conference

Championships in 1988 and 1991.  The 1991 team advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.  Thomas finished his time at EMU with 1,179 points, 452, rebounds, 185 made three pointers, and 249 assists.  He was named to the EMU Hall of Fame in 2021.

After leaving Ypsilanti, Thomas played in both the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1991-1999.  He played for Fort Wayne and Grand Rapids of the CBA, being called up to the NBA five separate times over his career.  He would play a total of 63 games in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings (1991-92), Cleveland Cavaliers (1996-98), Golden State Warriors (1997-98), and Orlando Magic (1997-98).

Thomas also played professionally overseas in France, Sweden, Greece, and Italy from 2000-2003.  Carl and Charles Thomas are one of nine sets of twins who have both played in the NBA.

A Lansing native, Thomas says he is excited to come home. 

“Not only was the opportunity to be a head coach extremely attractive to me, but to be able to come back home, be closer to my family, all while pursuing this goal and building this program.  I could not pass this up once I was given the chance to take it.”

Cleary announced the addition of men’s and women’s basketball to the athletic department on July 25, and both men’s and women’s programs will begin competition during the 2023-24 season.


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