2017-18 Men's Basketball
Head Coach Guy Neal
Contact info for Coach Neal
Office phone: 419-358-3222
As head coach Guy Neal enters his 29th season, the Bluffton University men's basketball program continues to produce successful student-athletes, both on and off the court. Neal instills a positive attitude and work ethic that is evident both on game nights and in the classroom.
Neal is the winningest coach in the history of Bluffton University men's basketball. With a 327-393 record, Neal looks to build on the success the Beavers have had over the past 10 seasons. He surpassed the previous mark of 150 wins held by Glenn Snyder (1967-85) on Dec. 29, 2003, in a 76-70 overtime win against Lake Erie College. With 16 wins in 2014-15, Neal notched his 20th season with 10 or more wins. An 87-76 overtime win at Transylvania in the final regular season game propelled the Beavers into the 2014-15 HCAC tournament and it also marked career victory #300 for Coach Neal! Bluffton took down Anderson and MSJ en route to its first-ever Heartland Conference tournament championship game.
Neal had coaching experience at both the high school and collegiate level before coming to Bluffton. He was an assistant coach at Baldwin-Wallace College from 1985 through 1989 before taking over the reigns of the Bluffton program in the fall of 1989. Before his stint at B-W, Neal served as an assistant coach at Ashland High School and Van Wert High School.
When Neal arrived at Bluffton University in the fall of 1989, he took over a program that had collected just four winning records in the school's previous 24 seasons. Neal equaled that number is his first nine seasons and has directed eight of Bluffton's top 12 teams in the 90 seasons of basketball in school history.
In 1991-92, Neal's third season at Bluffton, he guided Bluffton to the runner-up spot in the Association of Mideast Colleges and was named the AMC Coach of the Year. Bluffton's 16-10 record that season marked a plus-12 turnaround in wins from the previous season, a mark that drew national recognition as well. Neal took the Beavers back to the AMC championship game three seasons later in 1994-95. He was recognized by the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference as the Coach of the Year following the 2000-01 campaign when he guided Bluffton to a 16-9 record and a second place finish in the HCAC.
Following the Beavers' record-breaking 2006-07 campaign, Neal collected his second HCAC Coach of the Year award. For the third consecutive year, the Beavers reached the semi-finals of the Heartland Conference tournament. Bluffton was a perfect 12-0 in Founders Hall on its way to a tie for second place in the HCAC regular season. The Beavers' 18 wins equaled the most ever by a men's basketball team at Bluffton. In addition, Neal directed the HCAC Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons, as Mike Anthony took home the top individual honor in the conference. His 2008-09 seniors posted the most wins ever by a class of men's basketball players at Bluffton.
Neal is a graduate of Wellington High School, in Ohio, where he earned 10 varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball from 1973 through 1977. He is the school's third highest all-time scorer and was the first to score 1,000 points in a career. Following high school, Neal played his freshman season at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte before transferring to Bowling Green State University for the final three seasons of his collegiate career.
As a player at BGSU, Neal was a member of the 1980-81 squad that won the Mid-American Conference championship. Two seasons later in 1982-83 as a graduate assistant, Neal helped lead the Falcons to another MAC title. Neal has made two trips to the National Invitational Tournament during his career as a player in 1980 and as a graduate assistant in 1983.
Coach Neal is a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. He is an assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation at Bluffton and has other coaching experience at Bluffton with the men's tennis and soccer programs.
Neal lives in Bluffton with his wife, Diane, who serves as an assistant professor of education at Bluffton University. 30-year-old daughter Erin served as the graduate assistant volleyball coach at Bluffton University and she is back for her second stint with Coach Yarnell, while 25-year-old son Tyler was a four-year member of the men's basketball team at Bluffton University before taking an assistant coaching position at the University of Akron under former Head Coach Keith Dambrot.
Assistant Coach Ta-Rel Franklin
Contact info for Coach FRANKLIN
Office phone: 419-358-3424
Coach Franklin enters his second year as a member of the Bluffton University men’s basketball coaching staff. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, and graduate of Lutheran East High School, Franklin served as the Director of Basketball Operations/Student Assistant Coach at Alderson Broaddus University for the men’s basketball team. Franklin's responsibilities included daily practice planning; working with perimeter players in practice, travel plans for away games, film exchange/breakdown as well as the day-to-day operations for the team. Franklin was also a member of the 2014-2015 G-MAC regular season and tournament championship team. Franklin earned his B.S. in Business Marketing and is working towards his MBA with a concentration in Sports Management.
Assistant Coach Zach Thompson
Contact info for Coach THOMPSON
Office phone: 419-358-3424
Coach Thompson enters his third year as a member of the Bluffton University men’s basketball coaching staff. Hailing from Findlay, Ohio, Thompson served as the student manager for the University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team while working towards his Bachelor’s degree in Sport Administration. After completing his undergraduate work at UC, Thompson then spent time as an assistant coach at Rio Grande, where he earned his Masters degree in Education.