GFU hires former Vancouver, Wash., high school coach to fill mens basketball coaching position

PORTLAND — Although the decision to part ways with head coach Mark Sundquist was a surprise to some in and outside of the program, and the timing was less than ideal coming over summer break, George Fox University officials feel they have found the man to lead the next era of Bruin men’s basketball.

Maco Hamilton, who built the Union High School boys basketball program from non-existent to Washington 3A state champion in three years, was introduced Friday as George Fox’s next head men’s basketball coach at a press conference at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland. by: GEORGE FOX UNIVERSITY - A new era begins - Maco Hamilton speaks at a press conference Friday announcing his hiring as the head coach of the George Fox University men's basketball program at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland. Hamilton replaces Mark Sundquist, who parted ways with the school after 13 seasons.

Athletic Director Craig Taylor said Hamilton came highly recommended from both college and high school coaches in the region and proved to be the best of more than 50 applicants, including some NCAA Division I assistant coaches.

“It was a good pool and a deep pool,” Taylor said. “I just felt he really rose to the top.”

Union High School opened in Vancouver, Wash., in 2007 and Hamilton was named Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association 3A Coach of the Year in 2010 after leading the Titans to the title in the state’s second-largest classification. Hamilton compiled a 95-56 record in six seasons, won three league titles, two district titles and three state tournament trophies, placing seventh in 3A in 2008-2009 and third in 4A in 2011-2012.

But just as important as Hamilton’s on-court resume was his character, Taylor said.

A 2001 graduate of Eastern Oregon University with a degree in business administration management, Hamilton worked as a multicultural youth outreach coordinator and student advocate at Mountain View High School (Vancouver) from 2001 to 2006 and as a guidance counselor at Ridgefield (2006-2007) and Union high schools (2007-2013). He earned his master’s degree in education from City University in 2006.

Hamilton serves on the board of Courts for Kids, a nonprofit organization that sends sports teams to economically disadvantaged areas where they partner with local organizations to build courts for use by youth. He has joined Courts for Kids trips to the Philippines, Uganda and Costa Rica.

This spring, he joined a U.S. Department of State-funded trip to lead a coaches clinic in Uganda, where he worked with more than 200 coaches. In 2001, he played on an Athletes in Action team that traveled through Kenya playing professional teams.

“He is just such a good fit with George Fox with some of the things he does, like character development, spiritual formation and in service,” Taylor said. “He’s just connected in terms of the off-the-court stuff and how he uses basketball to kind of teach the greater life lessons.”

Although he has always been drawn to the challenge of coaching in college, Hamilton said he was not going to leave Union for just any job. But, because it has everything he wanted, he said George Fox was just too good to pass up.

“In college, there’s a bigger premium on winning and losing,” Hamilton said. “I was always curious if my philosophy would be embraced. So with George Fox, they embraced it. I really felt that I didn’t have to sugarcoat anything about who I was as a person, why I coached or what my desires and ambitions were. That was the No. 1 thing that jumped out, that I was accepted for who I am.”

Hamilton will inherit an experienced roster from Sundquist, who led the Bruins to a 15-11 overall record and a third-place finish last year before being named Coach of the Year in the Northwest Conference.

The Bruins’ new 35-year-old coach prefers an up-tempo offense and often elects to deploy a press defense, but believes the current players have the skill and basketball know-how to have success in his system.

“It’s about building the program and that won’t happen in year one,” Hamilton said. “It’s going to take time to get everything implemented and grow with it, but we want to get a foundation laid this year, a foundation that’s going to allow us to be successful right off the bat.”

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