Hargarve Military Academy head boys basketball coach Tom Messinger is headed to NJIT as an assistant coach. There has been no announcement yet by NJIT, but Hargrave has released the following statement:
The 2022-23 Next Up Recruits National Postgraduate Coach of the Year is heading to the collegiate ranks, as Thomas Messinger has accepted a position at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, also known as NJIT (an NCAA Division 1 program located in Newark, New Jersey) as an Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach. Messinger has served as the Head Postgraduate Basketball Coach and Basketball Program Director at Hargrave since the summer of 2020 and recently completed his outstanding tenure at the helm. Prior to Messinger’s three seasons as Head Postgraduate Basketball Coach, he served as the Associate Head Postgraduate Basketball Coach under Lee Martin (2017-2020) who is currently an Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at Ohio University. Messinger also spent time as an Assistant Postgraduate Basketball Coach under the tutelage of A.W. Hamilton (2015-2017), the current Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Eastern Kentucky University.
“While it is difficult to leave a program and an institution that I care about so deeply, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with and learn from [Head Coach] Grant Billmeier and the rest of the staff at NJIT,” said Messinger. “Coach Billmeier is an elite person on top of being an elite coach. He is a great basketball mind, a tireless worker and has always done things the right way. I am eager to learn and grow under his tutelage and also help to build something special in Newark.”
During his three seasons as Head Postgraduate Basketball Coach, Messinger’s teams reached new heights under unprecedented circumstances. In the summer of 2020, Messinger took over the post amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and all the uncertainties that came with that challenging time. However, Messinger was able to weather the storm and carry a roster that featured signees to illustrious institutions such as Georgetown University, Georgia Tech, Duquesne University, Ohio University, and Arizona State University, among others, en route to a 33-1 overall record and a #2 ranking in the final national polls.
Messinger reloaded for the 2021-2022 campaign as he was able to foray into a more traditional year in his second year as he amassed a 37-5 overall record and a #4 ranking in the final national polls. During his second year, Messinger’s roster featured signees to Eastern Kentucky University, University of Massachusetts, Fordham University, High Point University, and The Citadel. The 2021-2022 season resulted in the program’s 16th straight Sweet 16 appearance in the National Prep Championship.
Year three of Messinger’s tenure as Head Postgraduate Basketball Coach was one for the record books, highlighted on January 28th, 2023, during the Relentless Hoops Military Circuit inside historic Walter Davis Gymnasium, when Messinger earned his 100th win as Head Postgraduate Basketball Coach after just 106 games at the helm. The victory over London Basketball Academy made Messinger the fastest Head Postgraduate Basketball Coach to reach the century mark in the program’s storied history. Hargrave also had the opportunity to compete in two of college basketball’s most famous facilities in January, as the Messinger’s Tigers defeated rival, Fork Union Military Academy, inside Cameron Indoor Stadium (Duke University) and then, the following day, defeated the University of North Carolina’s JV team inside the Dean E. Smith Center (University of North Carolina).
Prior to the start of the season, Messinger became one of the founding fathers of the Elite Prep League in conjunction with the Commonwealth Basketball Group (CBG) which featured a contingent of the top prep schools in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions including traditional rivals, Fork Union Military Academy and Massanutten Military Academy. In the EPL’s inaugural campaign, the Hargrave Tigers were a prominent fixture as a team and Messinger was a shining star as a coach, earning EPL Coach of the Year honors as the Tigers took home both the distinction of EPL Regular Season Champions as well as EPL Conference Tournament Champions by defeating Massanutten and avenging their lone loss of the season to that point.
The 2022-2023 roster was headlined by several All-Americans and All-EPL players with signees to prolific institutions like Duquesne University, University of Buffalo, Indiana State University, The Citadel, and Mount St. Mary’s University, as the Tigers earned a stellar 44-2 overall record and a #1 ranking in the final national polls, a distinction that Hargrave held for 8 straight weeks to close out the season. The 44 wins is the second most in program history as the Tigers earned their 17th consecutive Sweet 16 appearance in the National Prep Championship.
In three years as Hargrave’s Head Postgraduate Basketball Coach, Messinger tallied an overall record of 114-8, including an undefeated record at home in historic Walter Davis Gymnasium, and earned recognitions such as Southeast Region Coach of the Year, the O.B. Teague ‘42 Coach of the Year award (two-time winner), as well as the aforementioned EPL Coach of the Year and Next Up Recruits National Postgraduate Coach of the Year honors. In total, during Messinger’s 8 years with the Hargrave Postgraduate Basketball program, he accumulated an overall record of 317-23 with three Sweet 16s, two Elite 8s, two Final Fours and one National Prep Championship (2016). Messinger was part of Hargrave teams that set school records for wins in a season (47; 2016) and points scored in a single game (173; 2019). Since 2015, Messinger had a hand in recruiting, developing and coaching 77 Division 1 players (and counting with the class of 2023 still making final decisions) in total, including over twenty during his time as Head Coach, that have gone onto prominent conferences such as the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, among others.
Prior to his time with the Postgraduate team, Messinger elevated Hargrave’s Varsity Basketball program to new heights. In his two seasons as Head Coach, he established a modern-era school record for wins in a season, collected Virginia Independent Conference Coach of the Year honors, and was honored with Hargrave’s O.B. Teague Coach the Year award. Messinger has also served as Director of Athletics (2018-2020) and Director of Admissions (2014-2016) in addition to his roles within the basketball program.
“I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by great players, great coaches, great mentors and great administrators throughout my time at Hargrave. Every bit of success we have had as a program is a direct reflection of many people’s hard work both in the spotlight and behind the scenes. I will be forever grateful for the incredible support, mentorship and friendship of Lee Martin, A.W. Hamilton and Kevin Keatts, who laid a foundation of success that is unparalleled in the basketball world. I am also overwhelmingly thankful for the board of trustees, Ben Davenport, COL Mike Brown, Sloan Gibson and Eric Peterson for entrusting me with the program. I’m humbled and beyond proud to have been a part of the storied history at Hargrave Military Academy ” Messinger commented.
Before arriving at Hargrave, Messinger earned a master’s degree in Teaching from Smith College in 2012 following a successful playing career at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Messinger was a key contributor on the 2007-08 Emerson team that set a school record with 24 wins. He was honored as Team MVP and a Great Northeast Athletic Conference All-Star during his senior season and finished his career second in conference history in both career 3-point field goals made (252) and career 3-point field goal percentage (44%). Messinger graduated from Emerson in 2011 with a degree in Marketing Communication while earning President’s List and Great Northeast Athletic Conference All-Academic honors along the way. A Northampton, Massachusetts native, Messinger starred at Northampton High School before attending NEPSAC school Deerfield Academy for a postgraduate year in 2007, earning Team MVP, All-League and All-Region honors during his high school years.
“Hargrave will always have a huge part of my heart,” remarked Messinger. “Even though my family and I are departing Chatham, Hargrave will always be home, and I will always be a part of the Hargrave family.”