Lynx Hire WNBA Legend Jennifer Gillom
The Minnesota Lynx announced today the hiring of Jennifer Gillom as an assistant coach. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Gillom, who was one of the first players signed by the WNBA, played seven seasons in the league, including six with the Phoenix Mercury. She led the Mercury to three playoff berths (1997, 1998, 2000), where they advanced to the 1998 WNBA Finals, losing to the Houston Comets. After playing her final season with the Los Angeles Sparks, Gillom retired from the WNBA with career averages of 13.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Her best season in the WNBA came with the Mercury in 1998, where she closed out the season with career-high averages of 20.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
“Grandmama is back,” said Gillom. “I am really looking forward to a new start with a new team, a new coaching staff, and a new organization that I feel is going to have tremendous success in the very near future. I really think Coach Don Zierden is a great coach, and I am really looking forward to learning from him and working with him. For some time now, I have been looking to coach at a higher level and to come back to coach in the WNBA. I am very thankful and honored that the Minnesota Lynx have given me the opportunity to coach in the WNBA. I am coming to a great organization with a great coaching staff and a lot of young talent that will help make my coaching adjustment a smooth one.”
“Hiring someone who has the knowledge, talent, and reputation that Jennifer has is an important step for the Minnesota Lynx Organization,” said Lynx Chief Operating Officer Roger Griffith. “Jennifer is one of the greatest players in the history of women’s basketball. She was one of the best post players that the WNBA has ever seen. We are looking forward to seeing what she will teach our players, especially our post players. Jennifer will be a great influence on our team and a tremendous asset to our organization in the community. She is big part of the coaching staff that we have assembled in Minnesota for our 10th Anniversary season in 2008.”
With the Lynx, Gillom will be responsible for assisting with the team’s scouting efforts, talent evaluation, and player development with a focus on the forwards and centers. With her addition to the staff, the Lynx coaching staff is finalized for the 2008 season. She joins head coach Don Zierden and assistant coaches Julie Plank and Ed Prohofsky on the sidelines for 2008.
“When we sat down and evaluated our team at the end of the 2007 season, one of the things that we really wanted to concentrate on was improving our post play. Part of it is getting better talent, but a big part of it is getting a coach in here to work with them. Jennifer will make a big impact on our post play in 2008,” said Zierden. “As soon as I talked with her, you could tell that this was a good fit. There was a strong connection right away. I am very excited that we are adding Jennifer to the coaching staff. Anytime that these players have a chance to learn from someone who came before them, it is very important. I think she knows how to get the maximum out of her potential, and I look forward to her teaching that to our post players.”
Following her retirement from the WNBA, Gillom began her coaching career with the girls basketball team at Xavier College Preparatory, a private high school in Phoenix, Ariz. She is currently in her fourth season with the Gators, where she has compiled an 88-24 record (.786 winning percentage) through Feb. 5. She will remain with Xavier and continue to coach during the WNBA offseason.
The WNBA’s 2002 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award recipient, Gillom was selected to the 1999 All-Star team and was also named to the 1997 All-WNBA first team and 1998 All-WNBA second team. She was named the 1985 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year. She collected a total of six gold medals, including the gold at the 1988 Olympics, and one silver medal as a member of USA Basketball.
Gillom played for former Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor at Ole Miss, where she was the 1986 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Female Athlete of the Year. A 1986 Kodak All-American, Gillom earned 1986 NCAA Midwest Regional MVP and 1985 NCAA All-Mideast Regional honors and was a four-time All-SEC first team selection. She led the Lady Rebels in scoring her final three seasons and finished, behind her sister Peggie, as Ole Miss’ all-time second leading scorer (2,186 points). During her four-year career, Gillom helped her teams to a 103-23 record with four NCAA Tournament appearances, including two Sweet Sixteens (1983, 1984) and two trips to the Elite Eight (1985, 1986), and three SEC West titles.
Gillom was named one of Arizona’s top athletes of the 20th century (No. 74). She and her sister Peggie have a sports complex named after them at the University of Mississippi. The Gillom Sports Center is home to women’s athletics at Ole Miss.
Gillom also enjoyed a lengthy professional career overseas prior to joining the WNBA, playing for teams in Italy, Greece, Spain and Turkey. Spending most of her time in Italy, Gillom played in Ansona, Messina, Milan and Taranto and was selected to several Italian League All-Star teams.
The Minnesota Lynx will celebrate their 10th season in 2008. Season and group tickets are on sale now for this historic season. Be a part of the pageantry by calling 612-673-8400, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the Lynx website at www.lynxbasketball.com.
What They Are Saying About Jennifer Gillom
Van Chancellor, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, LSU
“The Minnesota Lynx are getting a heck of a coach who the players will respect because she has been there and done that. The Lynx inside game will get better by having Jennifer on the staff. She is an even better person than a coach and is a great addition to the Lynx coaching staff.”
Nicole Ohlde, Forward/Center, Minnesota Lynx
“I am very excited that we have hired Jennifer Gillom to join the Lynx coaching staff. She is one of the best post players to ever play the game and I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with her every day of this upcoming season. I have only heard great things about her. Her experience and knowledge will help everyone on the court improve, especially the post players.”
Nancy Lieberman, ESPN Analyst
“I’ve got two generations of Gillom stories to tell. Peggie Gillom was my roommate in the Women’s Pro Basketball League (WBL) when we played for the Dallas Diamonds. And 17 years later, I was Jen’s roommate with the Phoenix Mercury. Jen will help make the Lynx a contender. Minnesota’s post players have a great asset to learn from. I saw Jen go up against the greatest post players of our generation, from Lisa Leslie to Janice Braxton, you name them. Jen was not the biggest post player, but she has great footwork, great fundamentals and she is multi-talented because she can post up and shoot the 3-pointer. Most players have a move, but Jen has a move, countermove and then another move after that. She has a lot of skills that the Lynx will learn a great deal from.
“And another thing about Jen, she didn’t go from playing in the WNBA to coach in college or in the pros. She went to coach at a private catholic high school in Arizona. She has paid her dues as a coach, and she knows what it takes to win. She is such a beacon of light. She just makes you smile. Her laugh is infectious. Although she is a Mercury for life, she will impart a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the Lynx organization and to their fans, and I am very proud of her. The Minnesota Lynx are getting the whole package in Jennifer Gillom.”
Renee Brown, WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations
“It’s always great to see one of our legends return to our league to coach. I believe Jennifer will set a great example and be a wonderful motivator for the Lynx players. She knows the game and has experience and passion for coaching. Welcome back to the WNBA Grandmama!”
Teresa Edwards, Former Assistant Coach and Player, Minnesota Lynx
“Jennifer Gillom is truly ‘a diamond in the rough’ and the Minnesota Lynx found her. As a point guard, I have never played with anyone who owned the post better than Big Jen and Katrina McClain. I may have had a key to the game, but they owned the house. She has experience, intelligence and the skills to teach. All she needs is a willing heart who wants to learn to be a great basketball player. With Jen’s greatness and her southern charm and Coach Z’s soulful passion, Minnesota, get your popcorn ready!”
Katrina McClain, Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer
“There are so many things I can say about Jen. As a player, you not only have one of the best players to ever have played the game, you have a legend who will give you 110 percent on and off the court. As a person, she is definitely one of God’s chosen. She is a beautiful person with lots of humor, so I hope you like laughing because she is a bundle of joy. She will bring enthusiasm and great intensity to the team. The Lynx players will be excited to play with all that Jennifer Gillom spirit.”
Teresa Weatherspoon, WNBA Legend and Head Coach, Westchester Phantoms (ABL)
“When I think of Jennifer, I could think a long time about her because she was truly one of the greatest players to play this game. Once she steps into the Lynx organization and begins working with the Lynx post players, they are really going to understand what it takes to be successful in the post. If you know Jennifer Gillom, she is always going to have that smile on her face. We call her ‘Big Jen.’ She had so much fun playing the game and that is what it is all about. With her being in Minnesota, the Lynx are going to have a great inside game. Nicole Ohlde is going to have one of her best seasons now that she can learn from Jennifer Gillom.”