Mitchell rounds out staff with former UConn star

Tamika Williams Head ShotKentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell is hopeful that one of the nation’s most accurate shooters will be a can’t-miss hire, too.

Tamika Williams, a former standout at Connecticut and first-round WNBA Draft pick, will finish out Mitchell’s basketball staff, which replaced all three assistant coaches this off-season.

Williams, 34, finished her UConn career as the school’s all-time leader in field goal percentage at 70.3 percent, which also is a Division I record. She holds the Huskies’ top four single-season marks for field goal percentage.

“I have been a long-time admirer of Tamika Williams and her contributions to the game of basketball,” Mitchell said in a release on Wednesday. “To have the opportunity to work with her on a daily basis is extremely exciting for everyone associated with our program.”

The former high school player of the year out of Chaminade-Julien and sixth overall WNBA Draft pick in 2002 played professionally before retiring in 2008. While in the pro ranks, Williams became a graduate assistant under Jim Foster at Ohio State and spent five seasons with the Buckeyes before taking a position at Kansas from 2008-11.

In 2011, the Dayton, Ohio, native left basketball and owned and managed a Nationwide Insurance agency while serving as a sports analyst for ESPN.

“I’m elated and humbled that Coach Mitchell has given me an opportunity to be a part of such a tremendous program at University of Kentucky,” Williams said in the release. “I have a chance to work with a phenomenal staff, cultivate the minds of young women for success on and off the court.”

Two Kentucky assistant coaches, Jeff House and Shalon Pillow, did not have their contracts renewed after last season and a third assistant, Danielle Santos, left to take an assistant coaching job at Florida State in June.

Mitchell replaced House and Pillow with Christian Stefanopoulos and Adeniyi Amadou several months ago.

When Santos left, Mitchell said one of his primary goals was to find someone that could keep his players on task in the classroom. Williams looks able to do that. She was on the dean’s list at Connecticut and was president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Williams also has served as an ambassador for Women & Girls Against HIV/AIDS, a U.S. State Department Sports Ambassador and traveled internationally with NBA Global, promoting the game of basketball.

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at jsmith3@herald-leader.com.
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