ATLANTA (March 20, 2018) — The Women's Basketball Coaches Association announced today the 2018 Assistant Coaches of the Year in all six WBCA membership divisions.
The WBCA Assistant Coach of the Year award is presented to one associate head coach or assistant coach in each membership division who demonstrates commitment to their program, their student-athletes and their head coach; their impact coaching on court; their mentorship and impact on other coaches; and their professional manner and attitude.
The 2018 WBCA Assistant Coaches of the Year are:
- NCAA Division I — Johnnie Harris, associate head coach, Mississippi State University.
- NCAA Division II — Shaina Afoa, associate head coach, University of Alaska-Anchorage.
- NCAA Division III — Olivia Lett, assistant coach, University of Chicago.
- NAIA — Jana Pearson, assistant coach, Vanguard University.
- Two-Year College — Alex Furr, assistant coach, New Mexico Junior College.
- High School — Derek Imig, assistant coach, Blanchet Catholic School (Oregon).
“The role of an assistant coach is vital in reinforcing a positive student-athlete environment with encouragement, excellence, structure, security, support and integrity. The WBCA is proud to honor these individuals as our assistant coaches of the year in their respective divisions of membership," said WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew. “
“Each coach was selected by vote of their peers, and the WBCA celebrates and applauds their lasting commitment to use our game as a platform to positively impact their student-athletes, institutions and communities.”
Harris is in her sixth season with the Bulldogs. She works mostly with the post and special team players. The Pine Bluff, Arkansas, native helped guide Mississippi State to the NCAA Division I National Championship Game last season. This season, the Bulldogs are 33-1 and have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament. Harris mentored Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan to the SEC Sixth Woman of the Year award last season and into contention for All-America honors this year.
Afoa just finished her sixth season helping lead the Seawolves to a 27-5 record and a NCAA Division II Tournament third-round appearance. The Anchorage, Alaska, native oversees scouting and post player development. She was also named to the WBCA Thirty Under 30 class in 2017.
Lett finished her second season leading the NCAA Division III Maroons to a 14-0 University Athletic Association record and a 24-3 overall record. As a player, she led Illinois Wesleyan to the 2012 NCAA Division III national title while averaging 21.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game as a senior.
Pearson finished her fourth season with the Lions, which ended the season with a 10-4 conference record, 24-6 overall record, and an appearance in the NAIA Division I National Championship tournament quarterfinal round. The Hatley, Mississippi, native coaches the defense for Vanguard and helped the team win the 2014-15 NAIA Champions of Character Team Award.
Furr leads the Thunderbirds’ recruiting efforts for the second season. In her first year, she signed four players who subsequently transferred to NCAA Division I schools. The former Fresno State University standout helped the Thunderbirds win the NJCAA Division I Region V Championship and finish with a 30-3 overall record.
Imig helped lead Blanchet Catholic School to the 2017 Oregon State Activities Association Class 3A State Championship and a third-place finish in 2018.
The Assistant Coach of the Year award originated in 2016 and is presented annually. Visit www.wbca.org/recognize/ to see a list of past recipients of the award.
About the WBCA
Founded in 1981, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association is the professional association for coaches of women's and girls' basketball at all levels of competition. The WBCA offers educational resources that coaches need to help make themselves better leaders, teachers and mentors to their players; provides opportunities for coaches to connect with peers in the profession; serves as the unifying voice of a diverse community of coaches to the organizations that control the game; and celebrates those coaches, players and other individuals who excel each year and contribute to the advancement of the sport. Visit www.WBCA.org for more details about the Association.