Southern Illinois, 1989
Thursday's game will tip off at 9:30 am CT and will be televised on ESPNU.
Steve Middleton enters his sixth season as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State and was the first hire by head coach Travis Ford as he followed him from Massachusetts. Middleton is well-respected as a recruiter across the country and has been very successful in the development of big men on the basketball court.
Middleton was a key component in returning the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and `10. He was also vital as OSU brought in one of the top recruiting classes in 2009, ranked as high as No. 4 by HoopScoopOnline.com.
Middleton spent three seasons at UMass with Ford. He was instrumental in the development of Rashaun Freeman and Stephane Lasme as they emerged as national stars for the Minutemen as they advanced to the postseason for the first time in seven seasons in 2007.
Lasme was a second-round draft selection of the Golden State Warriors after being named an honorable mention All-American as well as the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He also tied the all-time NCAA record for triple-doubles in a season with four during the 2006-07 season.
Freeman became the Atlantic 10's first three-time first-team all-league selection since Saint Joseph's Jameer Nelson, a name familiar to followers of Cowboy Basketball. Freeman finished fourth in career scoring (1,744 points) at UMass and third in rebounds (998).
Middleton was instrumental in both players' success as part of the Minutemen's Atlantic 10 regular-season championship in 2006-07. He also recruited and mentored Gary Forbes, the 2007 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, as well as three-year starting point guard Chris Lowe at UMass during its 2007-08 NIT Finals run.
Middleton joined the UMass staff in 2005 after three seasons as an assistant for Ford at Eastern Kentucky. He was a key ingredient in the Colonels' rise to an Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth in 2005 with a school-record 22 victories.
Prior to joining Ford's staff at EKU, Middleton spent nine seasons as the head coach at St. Mary High School in Paducah, Ky. He compiled a 126-122 mark in his nine seasons, including an 81-35 record during his last four years at the helm of the Vikings. He led St. Mary to a 23-6 record in 1999 and the school's first state tournament appearance. For his efforts, he was named the Paducah Sun's Purchase Area Coach of the Year.
While at St. Mary, Middleton also served as the school's director of athletics and was a physical education and health teacher. He was the first and remains the only black male coach of a varsity high school basketball team in Region 1 history. He also led the team to four-consecutive Class A regional titles during his stint at St. Mary.
A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Middleton graduated from Samuel J. Tilden High School. During his senior season, he led the Blue Devils to a 20-3 mark and a District 3 Championship. He averaged 24 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three steals per game. As a result, he was selected to the All-Brooklyn squad and received a scholarship offer to attend Southern Illinois.
Middleton was a four-year letterman for the Salukis and was a two-time first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection as a junior and senior. He led the team in scoring his final three seasons, including a 25.4 points-per-game average as a senior which ranks as the second-highest in school history. Middleton had eight 30-point games during his career, including a career-high 42 against Bradley which still ranks as the third-most in a game in school history. He was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1996.
Middleton was drafted by the Long Island Knights of the United States Basketball League (USBL) in 1988. After a brief professional career which also included a stint in the Continental Basketball Association, he returned to Southern Illinois and earned two degrees -- a bachelor's degree in history with a concentration in Afro-American history in 1989 and a master's degree in education-recreation in 1992.
While earning his master's degree, Middleton began his coaching career in 1989 as a graduate assistant with the Salukis' women's program. He served as the head coach at Golconda Civilian Conservation Center in 1990. From 1991 until 1992, he worked as a health educator in the Alexander & Pulaski Counties schools and communities in southern Illinois.
As a health educator, Middleon focused on `Health Issues in Black America', in which he participated in many health conferences as a speaker. During this time, he was also heavily involved with Amateur Athletic Union basketball programs in southern Illinois.
Middleton and his wife, ReGina, have two daughters, LaNesha Maria and Kierra Janece. ReGina was a standout basketball player herself at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill., where she is a member of the Volunteers' Hall of Fame. ReGina holds a master's degree as well and has been involved in academic advising for more than a decade. LaNesha is a sophomore on the Ladyjacks basketball team at Stephen F. Austin University.
Middleton Family -- LaNesha,Steve, Kierra and ReGina