Hired in the fall of 2011 as the first men’s basketball coach in school history, Claude Shields brings a winning pedigree and strong roots through the Tar Heel state which will both be crucial components in his efforts to successfully build the Pacers program from the ground up.
In only the program’s third season, Shields earned recognition as the USA South’s Coach of the Year in 2014-15, as WPU turned in a second place regular season finish after being picked to finish last in the preseason coach’s poll. The Pacers posted a 13-13 overall record with a 9-5 mark in conference play behind a high-powered offense, which set single-season USA South records for three-pointers attempted (770) and made (251).
His 2014-15 team yielded the program’s first three All-Conference performers in its history (Shawn Shaffer, Chris Thomas, and Nate Stother), a Capitol One Academic All-District selection in Mike Wolf and seven players on the Academic All-Conference Team. Shaffer and Wolf were also named WPU’s male Athlete of the year and Scholar-Athlete of the year, respectively.
Shields and the Pacers opened their inaugural season in 2012-13 by earning a 77-74 win over Johnson and Wales in the Guilford College Invitational. They went on to finish with a 5-12 record and closed the year out on a high note with consecutive wins over Mid Atlantic Christian University and Pitt Community College.
In 2013-14, their first season as a member of the USA South Athletic Conference, the Pacers improved to 9-16 overall with a 3-11 record during conference play. They notched the program’s first win against a Division III opponent on January 4, 2014 as they took down Immaculata University, 85-77. They followed that up with their first-ever conference win on February 2 holding off Ferrum, 72-70.
Before coming to Peace, Shields began his coaching career at Guilford College as an assistant under veteran head coach, Tom Palombo. He was put at the helm of the Quaker’s junior varsity squad where he coached them to a .500 record and also helped recruit 17 student-athletes for the incoming class of 2011 which included the 2011-2012 ODAC Rookie of the Year and two time, All-ODAC performer. Shields has proven his ability to recruit student-athletes who are successful in the classroom as well with 20 USA South All-Academic selections in his first three seasons at William Peace.
Shields has also worked basketball camps at UNC, Elon, Davidson, Wake Forest, and Guilford College including the Hoop Mountain Showcase Events at Guilford in 2011 and 2012. In addition, he established his own Elite Camp at WPU in 2014-15.
He is a 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina where he played junior varsity basketball for the Tar Heels under assistant coach, C.B. McGrath, and current UAB head coach, Jerod Haase. Haase led the Blazers to a Conference USA championship in 2014-15 before going on to upset the third-seeded Cyclones of Iowa State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Shields has previous ties to William Peace University through his mother, Virginia Lancaster ’77, who played on the school’s tennis team. He also played high school basketball in Kinston under WPU athletic director and women’s basketball coach, Kelly Johnson.