Dennis Felton is thrilled to be back in the head coaching ranks at Cleveland State University.
Named the 15th head coach in CSU history on March 24, 2017, Felton is a coaching veteran with more than 30 years of experience, including 11 full seasons as a head coach.
Since his arrival at CSU, Felton has started to implement his style and plan in the program. He has been active in the community, engaging with fans, students, alums, boosters and the media, spreading his message and vision for the program.
He has also been a speaker at several large basketball clinics, including the Basketball Clinic Belgrade, widely regarded as the top coaches clinic in Europe.
In addition, he was selected by USA Basketball to be a featured speaker and presenter at the USA Basketball Coach Academy - Presented by Nike, threw out the first pitch at a Lake County Captains game and made his way around the Northeast Ohio area for his weekly radio show at multiple remote locations.
During his time on the sidelines Felton has amassed 196 victories, won seven conference championships and led six of his teams to the postseason, including four NCAA berths.
In 11 seasons on the sideline, Felton has taken six of his teams to the conference tournament championship game, winning four times.
Felton has a background in the NBA, serving with three different franchises, including the San Antonio Spurs as the Director of Pro Player Personnel from 2010-13.
In his first season at CSU, Felton’s squad showed continued improvement as the season progressed, culminating with a run to the Horizon League Championship game.
Seeded eighth, the Vikings became the second highest team to ever play in the title game after wins over ninth-seeded Youngstown State, top-seeded and defending tournament champion Northern Kentucky and fourth-seeded Oakland.
Last year’s squad set a single season school record for three-pointers made (294) and threes attempted (863), breaking the old records of 247 makes and 709 attempts.
CSU also tied the single game school record with 14 three pointers made in four games.
Despite six seniors on the roster, the group was extremely young as the 15 player roster combined for just 19 seasons of Division I basketball experience. Despite the youth, Felton coached the squad to 12, one possession games with CSU going 7-5 in those contests, including wins in their final five games that came down to the final possession.
In addition, Felton was also instrumental in helping build the “Champions 4 Life” program, a mentoring program that connects business leaders with student-athletes as mentors who support and encourage the student-athletes’ academic, professional and personal growth.
Felton arrived at CSU after a three-year stint at Tulsa where he served as an assistant coach (2014-17). During his time at Tulsa, he helped the program to 59 wins and a pair of postseason bids. In his first year at Tulsa, the team won 24 games and advanced to the second round of the NIT.
The following season, Tulsa won 20 games and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship.
Felton began his head coaching career at Western Kentucky where he spent five years (1998-03), posting a 100-54 record and leading the program to the regular season and Sun Belt tournament titles in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
He is the only coach in WKU history to take three straight teams to the NCAA tournament.
Felton began his tenure at WKU as the youngest coach in program history and left as the all-time winningest coach in Sun Belt Conference history.
After winning just 24 games in his first two seasons, Felton led the program to a 76-20 mark over his final three seasons, which included victories at Louisville and at No. 4 ranked Kentucky.
The 2003 NABC District Coach of the Year, Felton was also named the Sun Belt Conference, CollegeInsider.com Sun Belt Conference and All-South team Coach of the Year in 2002 when he led WKU to a No. 19 ranking in the final Associated Press poll.
At WKU, all student-athletes under his guidance graduated and all except two - he inherited both in 1998 - completed their degrees on time.
Felton’s success at WKU led him to the head coaching position at Georgia in 2003, a position he held for five-plus seasons, leading the Bulldogs to three postseason berths.
In his first season at Georgia, Felton led the team to 16 wins and an NIT bid with a squad that included just seven scholarship players and a slew of walk-ons as Felton inherited a program that was on NCAA probation for recruiting violations and academic fraud. The team had also lost more than 50-percent of its scoring from the previous season
Two years later, the team went 15-15 and in 2006-07, the Bulldogs won 19 games and advanced to the second round of the NIT, earning the program’s first postseason victory in nine years.
In 2007-08, the Bulldogs earned the SEC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning the SEC tournament in dramatic fashion.
With only eight healthy scholarship players available, Georgia won four straight games in Atlanta to claim the conference title and the SEC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Bulldogs knocked off Ole Miss, 97-95, in overtime in the opening round, but their second round game was postponed after a tornado tore a hole in the Georgia Dome.
That forced the Bulldogs to win three games in a little over 24 hours, including two games in one day.
The run began with a 60-56 victory over Kentucky on Saturday afternoon and the Bulldogs turned around to defeat top-seeded Mississippi State, 60-56, a few hours later to advance to the title game where Georiga topped Arkansas, 66-57.
To this day, it remains one of the most dramatic runs through a conference tournament in college basketball history. Georgia’s run through the SEC tournament was chronicled in an ESPN documentary, Miracle 3.
Felton worked his way up the coaching ranks as an assistant coach, serving at Delaware (1986-87), Tulane (1990-91), St. Joseph’s (1991-92), Providence (1992-94) and Clemson (1994-97).
He worked under head coach Rick Barnes during his tenure at Providence and Clemson. Those six teams all posted winning seasons, including three 20-win campaigns, and combined to record a 114-71 record.
All six teams advanced to the postseason, including three NCAA bids and a trip to the Sweet 16 in 1997.
Felton also has several years of experience in the NBA, serving as a scout for the Phoenix Suns in 2009-10 under General Manager Steve Kerr, helping the Suns to the Western Conference semifinals.
He was also a summer league coach for the New Jersey Nets in 2010 and spent the 2010-13 seasons as the Director of Pro Player Personnel with the San Antonio Spurs.
With the Spurs, Felton was part of an organization that posted a 169-61 mark in his three years, winning three Southwest Division titles and advancing to the 2013 NBA Finals. The Austin based “D” League affiliate of the Spurs also won the 2012 championship.
Felton also has experience with USA Basketball, serving as an assistant coach for the Under 19 team, as well as the the Under 21 World Championships in Argentina in 2003.
He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Oxon Hill (Md.) HS in 1984, while still a student at Howard, and went on to become an assistant coach at Charles County CC for one season before moving to Delaware.
Born in Tokyo, Felton spent his early years living in and visiting a variety of areas around the world as his father was in the U.S. Air Force. His family settled in Clinton, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C. and Felton went on to be a star athlete at Surrattsville HS.
He played basketball at Prince George’s CC and completed his academic and athletic career at Howard University where he was a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference All-Academic selection.
Felton is a cum laude graduate of Howard, earning a degree in radio/television and film production in 1985.
Felton is married to the former Melanie Smith and the couple has two sons, Jazz and Nile, a junior guard on the Georgia State men’s basketball team.