Virginia State’s Lonnie Blow Jr. Named 2018-2019 Gaines Award Recipient


Courtesy of National Sports Media Association

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (April 26, 2019) — The National Sports Media Association (NSMA) has announced that Kelvin Sampson (Division I) and Lonnie Blow Jr. (Division II) are the 2018-19 winners of the Clarence “Big House” Gaines College Basketball Coach of the Year Awards. The Gaines Awards will be presented during the 60th annual NSMA Awards Banquet on June 24, 2019, at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Sampson was selected after he led the University of Houston to a 33-4 overall record this season, which included the American Athletic Conference’s regular season championship and a berth in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

He is a veteran of college and professional coaching, returning to the college game at Houston after serving six seasons as an NBA assistant coach with the Bucks and Rockets. After the Cougars went 13-19 in Sampson’s first season, they have won 21 games or more in the four seasons since, including the school record 33 this season. Among those 33 wins was the 600th of Sampson’s career.

Sampson began his head coaching career at Montana Tech in 1981-82, before moving on to stops at Washington State, Oklahoma and Indiana. His career record over 30 seasons stands at 614-324, a .655 winning percentage.

The Lumbee Indian native of Robeson County, N.C. is a UNC Pembroke alumnus who now resides in Houston with his wife Karen. They are the parents of Kellen and Lauren, who both work in the University of Houston’s athletic department.

Blow led Virginia State University to a 28-5 record and the best record in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s Northern Division. The Trojans followed that by winning the CIAA Tournament championship, the third in Blow’s career. That earned VSU a berth in the NCAA Division Two tournament, where they beat Notre Dame College (Ohio) before losing in the regional semifinals. The National Association of Basketball Coaches named him the co-coach of the year for the Atlantic Region of Division II.

Blow’s Trojans have a record of 131-43 in his six seasons at Virginia State. Before that, he had two separate stints as the head coach at St, Augustine’s in Raleigh, N.C. His overall coaching record over nine seasons is 193-70. He is the only coach to win CIAA Championships at two different institutions (St. Augustine’s – 2010; VSU – 2016, 2019). He was also an assistant coach at Old Dominion and a successful high school coach in a career that began in 1984.

Blow is a Virginia native who starred in basketball at Virginia Wesleyan College. He and his wife Donna are the parents of an adult son, Kenneth.

For information on the other NSMA Awards winners, go here.


Beginning in 2011, the NSMA has presented the Clarence “Big House” Gaines College Basketball Coach of the Year Award to a head coach in NCAA Division I and Division II, bestowing recognition on the coaches, who may not receive it from mainstream outlets.


Gaines was the legendary basketball coach at Winston-Salem (N.C.) State University. In 47 seasons as head coach, his teams won 828 games, including the 1967 NCAA Division II National Championship. Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe was the leader of that 1967 team. He went on to an NBA Hall of Fame career. Among the other notable players Gaines coached were Cleo Hill, the first NBA first-round draft choice from a historically black college or university, and sports media personality Stephen A. Smith.

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