Assistant coaching carousel, why Shemera Williams is leaving Virginia, ACC notes

Also, UNC picks up another 5-star recruit for 2021.

Welcome back to All in the Game, y’all.

Earlier this week, I reported at The Next that Shemera Williams and Kylie Kornegay-Lucas intend to transfer away from Virginia. Williams has already entered the portal and I followed up with her a few days ago. Here’s what she had to say about why she was leaving Charlottesville:

“I would say there was a lot going on outside of sports and that there was a lot of miscommunication most of the time. I am looking to transfer to a place that is home, a team that go to war and defend you. But also leadership and chemistry.”

She added that it would “be nice” to play closer to home in Wisconsin, but also said she’s just “looking for the right fit” and “wouldn’t mind” going out to the west coast. Williams was third in scoring for the Cavaliers last season.

Both she and Kornegay-Lucas were still listed on Virginia’s roster as of Friday afternoon.


And now, onto the notebook, which features a ton of recent assistant coach hires.

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Around the ACC

  • The UNC Tar Heels added a notable recruit to their 2021 class recently, picking up a commitment from Kayla McPherson, a five-star point guard. A native of Hull, Georgia, the 5-foot-7 playmaker is ranked as the 15th best player in her class, according to ESPN. She also had offers from Arizona, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech and N.C. State. McPherson is the fourth ESPN Top 100 recruit that Courtney Banghart has added to the Tar Heels’ 2021 class, joining Teonni Key, Destiny Adams and Morasha Wiggins. UNC and South Carolina are now the only two teams with at least four players in ESPN’s Top 50 recruits for the 2021 class.

  • Lindsey Hicks is joining the Virginia Tech staff as an assistant coach. Hicks was previously the associate head coach at Louisiana Tech and had also worked at Northwestern State, Alabama and Morehead State. As a player, Hicks was a standout at Purdue, helping them reach the 2001 national championship game and win three Big Ten titles.

  • Also joining the Virginia Tech staff is Christal Caldwell, who comes to the Hokies as an assistant coach after spending three seasons on the bench at West Virginia, her alma mater. Caldwell was a 1,000point scorer for the Mountaineers, helped them win a Big 12 title in 2014 and briefly played professionally in Romania. Before returning to WVU, she coached at La Salle.

  • Kenny Brooks, via the Roanoke Times, on what the college basketball season might look like: “Everyone’s preparing for both scenarios… There’s just so much uncertainty… You have to really concentrate on their mental (outlook) because there is really no answer for what’s going on.”

  • In more Virginia Tech news, the Hokies picked up a commitment from Alyssa Andrews, a four-star 2021 wing. The 6-foot recruit out of Colgan High School in Manassas, Virginia made the Washington Post’s All-Met First Team this past season as a junior, averaging 22.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per-game. ESPN ranks her as the 65th best player in the 2021 class.

  • Andrews told The Key Play: "I'm really close with my father, I'm a daddy's girl. It was important to me that when I was being recruited, to have that relationship with the head coach. It didn't have to be a father, exactly, but some sort of figure that I could have away from home. With Coach Brooks, I felt comfortable. I felt as if he'll be a father away from home."

  • The majority of the Duke women’s basketball team returned to campus last week. Players underwent COVID-19 screening upon arrival and then checked into rooms at the Washington Duke Inn to begin a mandatory quarantine period. Players will have physicals, biomedical testing, yoga and individual socially distanced meetings with new head coach Kara Lawson.

  • Lawson finalized her staff for her first season at Duke on Aug. 7, bringing aboard Sarah Wilkinson as a special assistant. Wilkinson, a Tennessee graduate and former student manager for the Lady Vols, joins Duke after most recently working for the Milwaukee Bucks as a basketball operations intern. She was also a graduate assistant for two seasons at Florida. Lawson also retained Kate Senger (Director of Operations), Bobby Sorrell (Executive Administrative Assistant to the Head Coach), Selena Castillo (Content Development Specialist) and Ted Kim (Video Coordinator) from Joanne P. McCallie’s staff.

  • Can’t say I had Kara Lawson pegged as a Kenny Chesney fan.

  • Two former 2021 Duke commits – Brooklyn Rewers and Lauren Walker – have committed to Michigan State. The duo decommitted from Duke shortly after Kara Lawson was hired. SB Nation’s Michigan State blog, The Only Colors, has more.

  • Former Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors has been hired onto the staff at Central Michigan as an associate head coach. Goestenkors took Duke to four Final Fours and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. This is her first job in college basketball since leaving Texas, where she was head coach from 2007 through 2012. Despite the desires of some fans and alumni, Goestenkors was quickly ruled out of the recent head coaching search at Duke. At CMU, Goestenkors will earn about $85,000 annually, according to the Detroit Free Press.

  • Jen Hoover has added Jess Pham to her staff at Wake Forest as a video coordinator and assistant director of basketball operations. Pham joins the Demon Deacons after spending two seasons at Liberty as a graduate assistant. She has also worked for Canisus and Longwood.

  • N.C. State added to their staff too, bringing on Lexie Barrier as a graduate manager. This is Barrier’s first gig in coaching after she finished up a stellar playing career at James Madison, where she scored more than 1,200 points and was a two-time All-CAA selection. She averaged 9.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per-game over 127 appearances for the Dukes.

  • Former Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale currently leads the WNBA in scoring, averaging 21.4 points per-game. The second-year guard for the Dallas Wings has scored 20 or more points in eight of the 12 games she’s played this year. Drew Ivery has a story on Ogunbowale that’s worth your time. Ben Dull has a bit on Ogunbowale here too.

  • According to Graham Hays at ESPN, you can count Courtney Banghart’s Tar Heels among the winners from the 2020 transfer season. Indeed, Petra Holešínská, Stephanie Watts and Ariel Young should help UNC increase their win total in Banghart’s second season in Chapel Hill.

  • Cal State Fullerton transfer Raina Perez will wear No. 2 at N.C. State.

  • Jeff Walz, via the Courier-Journal:“They want to have a season. They want to play. They understand it’s really important that they do their part as well as us as coaches, administrators, and staff to give them the best chance possible so we can compete in the fall and winter.”

  • And here’s what Walz had to say about Texas Tech hiring Krista Gerlich: "Krista is a great hire for Texas Tech women's basketball.  Not only does she do a great job teaching the game and getting the most out of her players, she has a personal stake in Lady Raider Basketball.  She is a proven winner as a player and has proven herself as a coach.  I'm excited to see where she takes Texas Tech women's basketball."

  • If you had Louisville’s Jazmine Jones down as the New York Liberty’s top rookie scorer this season, please collect your winnings. And read this story from Jackie Powell.

  • Syracuse has hired John Marcum as an assistant coach on Quentin Hillsman’s staff. His previous stops include Butler, Grand Canyon, East Carolina, Indiana State, Cal Baptist and Oklahoma Baptist. He fills the vacancy left by DeLisha Milton-Jones, who became the head coach at Old Dominion this offseason.

  • Miami has hired Kelley Gibson as an assistant coach on Katie Meier’s staff. Gibson fills the vacancy left open by Tia Jackson, who joined Kara Lawson’s staff at Duke. Gibson has previously coached at Rutgers, Syracuse, USC, Maine and UMBC. She played at Maryland and in the WNBA.

Spanning the South

  • At the Lady Bulldogs Report, Brandon Sudge takes us inside Mikayla Coombs’ decision to transfer from UConn to Georgia. Before picking the ‘Dawgs, she had visited Duke.

  • Brianna Scott – the daughter of former Maryland player turned broadcaster Christy Winters Scott – announced her commitment to Georgetown. A 2021 prospect, Scott is a 6-foot-3 wing from South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia.

Elsewhere in women’s basketball

  • Sophie Gatzounas will be Navy’s team captain this upcoming season, Tim Taylor’s first as head coach. The 5-foot-9 native of South Hadley, Massachusetts has started 61 of the 85 games she played in as a Midshipman, averaging 7.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and an assist per-game.

  • Back where I’m from on the Eastern Shore, Cambridge-South Dorchester High School has a new head coach in Shamya Johnson. She was an assistant last season under Shawn Tucker, who left CSD to become an assistant at a nearby JUCO, Chesapeake College. Johnson played at CSD from 1999-2003. The Star Democrat has more.

  • Howard Megdal takes a look at the Wubble’s breakout stars for FiveThirtyEight.

  • “Do I think it's time for someone else to have their own signature shoe?” Swoopes asks. “Of course I do.” Read this, from Erica Ayala.

Also read

Stay safe. Y’all be good.

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Mitchell Northam is an award-winning journalist based in North Carolina. He grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and is a graduate of Salisbury University. He is a digital producer at WUNC, and his work has also been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, NCAA.com, the Delmarva Daily Times, Sports Illustrated, Pittsburgh Sports Now and elsewhere. He is a member of APSE, NWSLMA and USBWA. He’s on Twitter @primetimeMitch. More of his work can be found at MuckRack.