WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- The Winston Salem State University Board of Trustees approved a contract this morning for the next head men’s basketball coach.
James Wilhelmi will officially be introduced as the seventh head men’s basketball coach at Winston-Salem State University on Thursday, June 12, on the WSSU campus. Scheduling conflicts within the university administration prevents the event from happening before then.
“Our goal is to continue to build a championship-caliber program that contends for CIAA titles and NCAA Tournament berths on an annual basis”, said Tonia Walker, WSSU director of athletics. “I believe that James brings the experience and vision that will allow the Rams to reach new heights. He brings continuity to the program and, more importantly, he’s demonstrated an ability and desire to be a mentor to young men. He certainly embraces our mission to develop leaders on the court and in the classroom.”
“I would like to commend the search committee for their time and the effort that led to the recommendation of a strong candidate who I believe possesses the right fit, proven experience and work ethic to assist the department of athletics in graduating champions,” added Walker.
The WSSU Rams basketball team has compiled a record of 60-27 since Wilhelmi’s arrival, won one CIAA Championship, played in the CIAA title game this past season, and made two NCAA Regional appearances in his tenure as an assistant coach.
Wilhelmi joined the Rams coaching staff in the summer of 2011 as the team’s associate head men’s basketball coach, bringing a wealth of experience and a strong knowledge of the game to the WSSU sidelines after several coaching stints. Throughout his career, Wilhelmi has been instrumental in the recruitment and development of several players who have gone on to compete at the professional levels. He previously served as an assistant coach at the University of North Alabama and was at Howard University in Washington, D.C. for five seasons. During his time at Howard, Wilhelmi played an integral role in recruiting some of the top players in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), including a pair of MEAC All-Rookie Team players. He also spent time as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Md.
His other coaching stops include the University of Evansville, Texas Southern, the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Hampton, Northeastern Illinois, and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. During his time at Evansville, he was the team's offensive coordinator where he guided the Evansville Purple Aces to ranking second in the Missouri Valley Conference in field goal percentage and an upset of a top 10 opponent when the team defeated the Creighton Blue Jays, who were led by NBA star Kyle Korver. He also recruited former Texas Southern great Sean Walker, who went on to lead the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in scoring. Wilhelmi was also instrumental in teams’ successes as he helped guide the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore Fighting Hawks to their first winning MEAC record in 10 seasons and helped the Hampton Pirates to a turnaround season that saw the team win nine more games during the 1999-2000 season. The effort was one of the top 10 turnarounds for NCAA Division I teams. He the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Pointers, he helped guide that team to an elite eight appearance in the NCAA Division III National Basketball Tournament. Wilhemi also spent a year as a head boys’ basketball coach at Sussux Central High School in Georgetown, Del.
Wilhelmi is a 1995 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and earned a Master of Science degree in human development and community resources from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1997). He is a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and spent several years on the Mid-Major Top 25 voting panel for CollegeInsider.com.
As an athlete, Wilhelmi played high school basketball at La Follette High School in Madison, Wis. and went on to letter in football at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for three years.