Chris Cheeks, a 17-year veteran at the NCAA Division I level, begins his third season on the University of Delaware men’s basketball coaching staff in 2014-15.
Cheeks helped lead the Blue Hens to one of the best seasons in school history a year ago as Delaware finished 25-10, tied for the second most wins in a season in school history, and won its first 11 regular season conference games en route to the program’s first CAA regular season title. The Blue Hens secured their eighth regular season league title in school history, while UD’s 14 conference wins tied for the second most in a single season.
UD won 13 consecutive games from Jan. 1 through Feb. 12, tied for the second longest streak in school history, while the Blue Hens’ 11 road victories on the year also ranked second in program history.
Delaware then won three straight contests in the CAA tournament in Baltimore, including a dramatic 75-74 comeback win over William & Mary in the final, to claim the fifth conference tournament title in school history.
The Blue Hens earned the No. 13 seed in the East Regional, battling fourth-seeded and 11th ranked Michigan State before falling to the Spartans, 93-78, in an NCAA Tournament second round game in Spokane, Wash.
Cheeks was instrumental in the development of guard Devon Saddler, who set a school record and currently ranks sixth in CAA history with 2,222 career points. Saddler earned All-CAA honors during all four years of his career, and was named to the 2014 Lou Henson Mid-Major All-America Team.
Saddler was joined on the first team All-CAA and All-District 10 teams by fellow senior Davon Usher, who set a UD single season record by scoring 679 points during the 2013-14 season.
The Blue Hens compiled an outstanding season during Cheeks’ first year in Newark by finishing 19-14 overall and placing second in the CAA with a 13-5 league mark, both program highs for UD since joining the conference. The Blue Hens then advanced to the CAA Tournament Semifinals for the third time since joining the league, and for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
Included among those victories was a win at Virginia, the program’s first over an Atlantic Coast Conference school in 50 years, as Delaware advanced to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden.
Saddler continued his impressive career, leading the CAA with 19.9 points per game while earning first team All-Conference in addition to NABC and USBWA All-District honors. Senior Jamelle Hagins, who became the school’s career rebounding leader, was tabbed the CAA Defensive Player of the Year while also earning second team All-CAA and NABC All-District accolades.
Hagins, who ranks among the CAA career leaders in blocks and rebounds, was selected to participate in the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational following his outstanding career.
Cheeks had served as the head coach of AAU team DC Assault in 2011-12, and was an assistant coach at Charlotte from 2006-10. He helped the 49ers attract the Atlantic 10’s top recruiting class and the 13th-ranked class in the nation in 2007-08, Charlotte’s highest ever ranked recruiting class.
Prior to joining the 49ers, Cheeks spent three seasons at Georgia State from 2003-06.
He served two years at West Virginia in 2000-02 and helped recruit the top-rated class to the Big East in 2000, the only time in history that the Mountaineers boasted the league’s top class.
He began his coaching career in 1995 at his alma mater Virginia Commonwealth, serving five years for the Rams through the 2000 season and helping VCU win the CAA regular season and conference tournament titles in 1996.
Cheeks scored 1,273 career points in two seasons at VCU from 1987-89, while his 42 points against Old Dominion in 1989 are the most ever by a Rams player in a Division I game. His 20.2 career scoring average ranks second in school history, and he was named to the Rams All-Time Team.
“Obviously I’m extremely excited to be a part of Blue Hen nation,” Cheeks said at the time of his hiring. “The opportunity to coach again in the Colonial Athletic Association is huge for me, and is special because I was a part of my first championship while coaching in the league.”