KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) recognized Guilford College's Ronnie Thomas as one of its 2016-17 Under Armour 30-under-30 honorees Tuesday. Thomas, the top assistant for the Quakers' men's basketball team, is part of a group of 20-somethings from all divisions of college men's basketball recognized for their early coaching accomplishments. The list includes coaches from all NCAA levels, including Princeton University assistant Skye Ettin, who played with the Quakers in 2010-11.
Thomas joined Guilford as head coach Tom Palombo's second assistant coach in 2015. A year later he assumed the top spot and also became the school's NCAA compliance coordinator. In his two seasons, the Quakers have posted a 40-16 overall record. Guilford captured the 2017 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) regular-season and tournament titles and reached the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. Five Quakers have earned All-ODAC honors in Thomas' two seasons, including Alston Thompson, the 2016 ODAC Rookie of the Year. In addition to providing individual training, Thomas directs team defense, works with Guilford's guards and oversees in-season conditioning. He also manages much of the team's recruiting efforts, which yielded the likes of Jaylen Gore, a 2017 All-ODAC Tournament selection.
In additions to his on-court efforts, Thomas established the Quakers Read Program, which connects Guilford student-athletes with Title 1 schools in Guilford County to promote literacy. He assists with advising and moderates the team's academic progress through academic meetings and study halls. Thomas leads the Quakers' shoot-arounds at home and on the road, and coordinates team meals on the road and over college breaks. He also established the Guilford Holiday Camp, which provides a day of free instruction to area children.
After a standout career at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Virginia, Thomas played collegiately for ODAC-rival Bridgewater College. He graduated in 2014 as a degree in liberal studies major and an elementary education minor. A three-year captain, he graduated with the Eagles' career steals record and ranks among Bridgewater's all-time assists leaders.
After graduation, Thomas played in Ireland's Wingfoot Premier League for the Ulster Elks. He also continued his studies overseas and started work towards a master's degree in sports management from the University of Ulster, which he completed in 2015. The postgraduate studies were part of his involvement with the Sport Changes Life Foundation, which teaches life skills and fosters positive relations between the city's Catholic and Protestant communities. Thomas also coached with the Basketball Northern Ireland Academy and Ireland's under-16 Girls' National Team.