Kelvin Jefferson, Gannon University's Men's Basketball Head Coach
Gannon University has named Kelvin Jefferson as its next head men’s basketball, announcing the hire at a press conference Tuesday morning in the boardroom of Gannon’s Old Main.
Jefferson brings 24 years of coaching experience with him to Erie, including 12 seasons as a Division I assistant and eight as head coach of the elite prep team at South Kent School in Connecticut.
“I am honored to join the Gannon University family,” Jefferson said. “Gannon offers an excellent opportunity to lead a basketball program that has a history of success at a university that is dedicated to service and faith. I would like to thank President Keith Taylor, Vice President of Student Development and Engagement Brian Nichols and Director of Athletics Lisa Goddard McGuirk for this opportunity and their trust. It is with great excitement that I accept the position to be the next men’s basketball coach of the Golden Knights.”
He comes to Gannon after spending the past three seasons as an assistant at Division I Old Dominion, where he helped the Monarchs go 70-28 over three seasons, capping the run with the 2018-19 Conference USA regular season and tournament title and the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2011.
“We are all very excited to welcome Kelvin Jefferson to Gannon University,” Gannon Director of Athletics Lisa Goddard McGuirk said. “We had a tremendous pool of very talented candidates, and Kelvin’s depth of experience, and his approach and commitment to what we value at Gannon, really exemplifies everything that we were looking for in our next head men’s basketball coach. We are looking forward to an exciting year of men’s basketball under Kelvin’s leadership, in which our tradition of excellence both on and off the court will continue.”
Old Dominion improved upon its record and finish in each of the three seasons Jefferson was on its bench, going from 19-12 overall and the Conference USA quarterfinals in 2016-17 to 25-7 overall and the conference semifinals in 2017-18 before last season’s championship breakthrough. ODU players earned five all-conference honors during his stay in Norfolk, Virginia, including three first-teamers and the 2018-19 Conference USA Player of the Year in B.J. Stith, who also earned Associated Press honorable mention All-American laurels.
Prior to returning to the college ranks, Jefferson led the South Kent School prep team from 2008 to 2016, leading the Cardinals to an overall record of 131-76. He helped tutor six future NBA players, including 2012 Big East Rookie of the Year Moe Harkless of St. John’s, Louisville All-American and national champion Russ Smith, and All-American and 2014 Big Ten Player of the Year Nik Stauskas of Michigan.
In all, over 50 players who came through South Kent during Jefferson’s time there signed with a Division I program. He also coached two Connecticut Gatorade Players of the Year in Matt Moyer and Tremont Waters.
Before taking the head coaching job at South Kent, Jefferson served as an assistant at four different Division I programs over a span of nine seasons. In one season at Colgate, he helped the 2007-08 Raiders go 18-14 overall -- tying the program record for single-season wins -- and reach the Patriot League tournament championship game.
The two years prior to that were spent as recruiting coordinator and assistant coach at Stony Brook from 2005 to 2007. His 2006-07 recruiting class was ranked 27th in the country by Hoopscooponline.com.
From 2001 to 2005, Jefferson spent his first stint on a staff of current Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones, working with Jones at American. In his first season, Jefferson helped engineer the second-best turnaround season in Division I in 2001-02, as the Eagles improved by 11 wins to finish 18-12 overall and win the Patriot League regular season championship.
American would return to the top of the conference again two years later, earning the Patriot League regular season title in 2003-04. In four seasons in Washington, D.C., Jefferson helped the Eagles go 69-50 overall with three trips to the conference tournament championship game. He helped coach seven all-conference performers, including 2002 Patriot League Player of the Year and AP All-American Patrick Doctor, while players earned a spot on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll 14 times.
Jefferson’s first crack at Division I came with two seasons at Vermont. The 1999-00 version of the Catamounts matched a Division I program record with 16 victories and went 11-7 in the America East. His recruiting helped Vermont kick start a sustained run of success that lasts to today, with 20-win seasons in 16 of the past 18 years, as he brought in 2001 America East Rookie of the Year and 2002 Player of the Year T.J. Sorrentine, as well as three-time Player of the Year Taylor Coppenrath.
His coaching experience began as an assistant at a trio of Division III schools. Just before heading to Vermont, Jefferson coached two championship seasons at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, helping the Mariners to Skyline Conference titles and NCAA tournament berths in both 1997-98 and 1998-99.
In one season at Salem State in Salem, Massachusetts, he helped the Vikings win the MASCAC championship and reach the NCAA round of 16 in 1996-97. Jefferson’s first coaching job was in 1995-96 at Wesleyan in Connecticut.
A native of Norwalk, Connecticut, Jefferson received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Connecticut State in 1995. He played three seasons as a forward for the Division II Owls, averaging 7.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 75 career games. He pulled in 20 rebounds in a game against New Hampshire College during his senior season on his way to leading the New England Collegiate Conference in rebounding during the 1994-95 campaign with 9.2 per game. He began his college career with one season at Clark University in Massachusetts.
Jefferson was a captain of the SCSU team during his senior season, and off the court, he was a sports writer for the student newspaper, as well as a member of the Black Student Union and Student Advisory Committee.