Tennessee Alumnus

Former Lady Vol Takes Reins at N.C. State

Former Lady Vol Takes Reins at N.C. State

By Elizabeth A. Davis

They say the best point guard is an extension of the coach on the court.

Kellie Jolly Harper has taken that idea to a whole new level. The former Lady Vols point guard led Tennessee to an unprecedented three straight national championships as Coach Pat Summitt’s ambassador on the court. Now Harper is taking Summitt’s teachings to another historical women’s basketball powerhouse as the coach of her own team.

“Being at Tennessee and playing under Pat and watching how the program was run just made me want to try to coach at that level,” says Harper, who began her first season as the new head coach at North Carolina State in November.

“I’m not trying to be Pat Summitt, but I am trying to imitate the wonderful things she does as coach.”

Harper, with her All-American teammate Chamique Holdsclaw, helped Tennessee dominate women’s basketball by winning national titles in 1996, 1997, and 1998. The 1997–98 team went 39-0. The Sparta, Tennessee, native, wearing her signature blond French braid in every game, was a fan favorite because of her toughness and grit. She was inducted into the Tennessee Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame in October 2009.

Harper set the record for most assists in an NCAA championship game with 11 in 1997, and the 43 minutes she played in the Lady Vols’ 1997 Southeastern Conference tournament semifinal win in overtime is a record for most minutes played in a conference tournament game.

“As a player at Tennessee, Kellie helped lead us to three consecutive NCAA titles because she was smart and always outworked her opponent,” Summitt said when Harper was announced as N.C. State’s coach. “As a coach, I’ve seen what a keen basketball mind she has. She is always looking for a way to give her team the best chance to be in a position to win.”

After graduating from UT Knoxville in 1999, Harper was drafted by the WNBA’s Cleveland Rockers. During the small window in between graduating and starting her career, she married Jon Harper, who was a manager for the women’s basketball team at Auburn. He is currently an assistant with her at N.C. State.

Later in 1999 she moved into coaching as an assistant at Auburn. For three seasons, she was an assistant at UT Chattanooga, helping lead the Lady Mocs to three straight NCAA tournament appearances.

In 2004 she was named head coach at Western Carolina, which twice won the Southern Conference tournament and the automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.

Harper was hired by N.C. State after legendary coach Kay Yow died in January 2009 following a long fight against breast cancer. Harper knows she cannot fill that void and understands the emotions surrounding such a difficult time for all of N.C. State’s current and former players.

“Fortunately for me, I understand the camaraderie that former players have among each other and the love they had for Kay Yow. It is exactly the way we would have been at Tennessee,” Harper says.

With her busy job as a coach, it’s hard to find time to visit with Summitt or her former teammates. That’s because so many of them have the same excuse—they’re coaches now too. In all, 46 former Lady Vols are or have been coaches at the high-school, college, or professional level. And 14 former graduate assistants, 5 assistants, 3 managers, and 3 directors of basketball operations have gone into coaching.

“When we’re out recruiting, we see each other a lot,” Harper says about former Lady Vols. “The Final Four is typically a Lady Vol reunion because there are so many former players that are now coaching.”

A Stepping Stone to the Coaching Ranks

Lady Vol head coach Pat Summitt has not only produced a number of outstanding players during her 34 years at the helm of the UT program, but she has turned out some successful coaches as well.

Currently, the list of coaches at the professional, collegiate and high school levels stands at 71 and represents 46 former Lady Vol players, 14 former graduate assistants, five assistant coaches, three managers, and three basketball operations directors, who now are serving or have served in the coaching ranks.

Key: “P” indicates player; “GA” indicates graduate assistant; “A” indicates assistant; “M” indicates manager; “BO” indicates basketball operations director

Professional Ranks

Name

Position & Years at UT

Current or Last Position

Nancy Darsch

A/GA (78-85)

Former assistant at Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)

Danielle Donehew

BO (01-08)

Executive VP at Atlanta Dream (WNBA)

Tanya Haave

P (80-84)

Former head coach at “Satila” Skene, Sweden

Lisa Harrison

P (89-93)

Former assistant at Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)

Carla McGhee

P (86-90)

Former WNBA Player Personnel

Carolyn Peck

A (93-95)

Former head at Orlando Miracle (WNBA)

Trish Roberts

P (76-77)

Former head at Atlanta Glory (ABL)

Heidi VanDerveer

GA (86-88)

Former assistant at Seattle Storm (WNBA)

College Ranks

Name

Position & Years at UT

Current or Last Position

Jody Adams

P (89-93)

Head at Wichita State

Jane Albright

GA (81-83)

Former head at Wichita State University

Kathy Allen

GA (02-04)

Assistant at UAB

Sheila Frost Anderson

P (85-89)

Former assistant at University of Richmond

Debbie Ayres

GA (89-90)

Assistant at Stony Brook

Alysiah Bond

BO (98-01)

Assistant at Arizona

Al Brown

A (91-02)

Assistant at Duke

Greg Brown

A/GA (02-04)

Assistant at Central Florida

Niya Butts

P (96-00)

Head at Arizona

Tasha Butts

P (00-04)

Assistant at UCLA

Nikki Caldwell

P (90-94); A (03-08)

Head at UCLA

Shelia Collins

P (81-85)

Former head at West Georgia College

Abby Conklin

P (93-97)

Assistant at University of San Francisco

Kelli Casteel Cook

P (88-92)

Former head at Maryville College

Tony Cross

GA (83-84)

Head at Belmont University

Nancy Darsch

A/GA (78-85)

Former head at Ohio State

Mickie DeMoss

A (85-03)

Assistant at University of Texas

Rochone Dilligard

P (91-94)

Former assistant at Austin Peay

Todd Dooley

M (94-97)

Former assistant at Maryville College

Tonya Edwards

P (86-90)

Head at Alcorn State

Angel Elderkin

GA (06-07)

Assistant at University of Virginia

Kyra Elzy

P (96-01)

Assistant at University of Kentucky

Sharon Fanning

GA (75-76)

Head at Mississippi State University

Alex Fuller

P (04-09)

Graduate Assistant at University of Kansas

Daedra Charles Furlow

P (89-91)

Assistant at University of Tennessee

Teresa Geter

P (97-99)

Head at Denmark Technical College

Bridgette Gordon

P (85-89)

Assistant at Georgia State

Aubrey Guastalli

P (05-06)

Former assistant at Fresno Pacific

Tanya Haave

P (80-84)

Head at University of San Francisco

Sylvia Hatchell

GA (74-75)

Head at University of North Carolina

Cindy Noble Hauserman

P (78-81)

Retired head at Centre College

Dena Head

P (88-92)

Former Assistant at Central Connecticut State University

Marlene Jeter

P (90-92)

Former head at Clinton J.C. (S.C.)

Bernitha Johnson

M (03-05)

Assistant at Binghamton University

Dana Johnson

P (91-95)

Former assistant at Morgan State University

Kellie Jolly Harper

P (95-99)

Head at North Carolina State University

Nancy Bowman Ladd

P (73-75)

Retired head at University of the South

Angela Lawson

GA (89-91)

Head at University of the Incarnate Word

Cheryl Littlejohn

P (83-87)

Former head at Chicago State University

Lea Henry Manning

P (79-83)

Head at Georgia State University

Michelle Marciniak

P (93-96)

Former assistant at South Carolina

Nikki McCray

P (91-95)

Assistant at South Carolina

Calamity McEntire

M (02-03)

Director of Basketball Operations at UC Santa Barbara

Carla McGhee

P (86-90)

Assistant at South Carolina

Matthew Mitchell

GA (99-00)

Head coach at University of Kentucky

Zandra Montgomery Morris

P (77-79)

Former assistant at Lee University

Mary Ostrowski

P (80-84)

Former assistant at Ohio State University

Carolyn Peck

A (93-95)

Former head at University of Florida

Shalon Pillow

P (98-02)

Assistant at University of Kentucky

Semeka Randall

P (97-01)

Head at Ohio University

Jill Rankin Schneider

P (79-80); GA (80-81)

Assistant at University of Texas

Trish Roberts

P (76-77)

Former head at Stony Brook

Joy Scruggs

P (72-75)

Head at Emory & Henry College

Amber Stocks

BO/GA (00-02)

Assistant at Xavier University

Judy Southard

GA (77-78)

Retired head at Marshall University

Pam Tanner

GA/A (90-93)

Former head at University of Denver

Heidi VanDerveer

GA (86-88)

Head at Occidental College

Holly Warlick

P (76-80); A (86-08)

Associate at University of Tennessee

High School Ranks

Name

Position & Years at UT

Current or Last Position

Janet Allmon

GA (83-84)

Former head at Baldwin (Ga.) H.S.

Sheila Frost Anderson

P (85-89)

Assistant at Giles Co. H.S.

Debbie Ayres

GA (89-90)

Former head at California School for the Deaf

Diane Brady

P (74-75)

Former head at McMinn Co. H.S.

Cindy Brogdon

P (77-79)

Former head at Centennial (Ga.) H.S

Debbie Groover Buckner

P (77-81)

Assistant at Woodstock (Ga.) H.S.

Shelley Sexton Collier

P (83-87)

Head at Webb (Tenn.) H.S.

Abby Conklin

P (93-97)

Former head at Trinity (Ill.) H.S.

Karla Horton Douglas

P (84-87)

Assistant at Webb (Tenn.) H.S.

Rochone Dilligard

P (91-94)

Former head at Lebanon H.S.

Tonya Edwards

P (86-90)

Former head at Northwestern (Mich.) H.S.

Cindy Noble Hauserman

P (78-81)

Head at Chillicothe (Ohio) H.S.

Marlene Jeter

P (90-92)

Assistant at Victory Christian Center (N.C.) H.S.

Dana Johnson

P (91-95)

Assistant at Western High (Md.) H.S.

Dawn Marsh

P (84-88)

Former head at Duluth (Ga.) H.S.

Zandra Montgomery Morris

P (77-79)

Former head at Cleveland (Tenn.) H.S. boys team

Pam Owens

GA (06)

Head at Judson (San Antonio, Texas) H.S.

Jill Rankin Schneider

P (79-80); GA (80-81)

Head at Monterey (Texas) H.S.

Suzanne Barbre Singleton

P (74-78)

Former head at Maryville (Tenn.) H.S.

Tiffany Woosley

P (91-95)

Former head at Lincoln County (Fayetteville, Tenn.) H.S.