On Monday, the University of Virginia announced that Tina Thompson was named their women’s basketball head coach.
Thompson comes from the University of Texas, where she was an assistant coach for Karen Aston’s staff since 2015 and named their associate head coach in 2017. The Longhorns made three consecutive NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and one Elite Eight appearance in 2016 during her time there.
As a former WNBA player, Thompson is regarded as one of the all-time greats. She was the first overall pick in the 1997 Draft out of Southern California and played 17 years for the Comets (1997-2008); Los Angeles Sparks (2009-2011), and Seattle Storm (2012-13). Thompson won four WNBA titles with the Comets in the WNBA’s first four seasons and was part of the 2004 and 2008 Team USA Olympic teams that won gold. She retired as the WNBA’s career leading scorer and was named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame last month in San Antonio.
The Cavaliers are traditionally one of the all-time great programs in women’s college basketball, especially from 1990-1992 when they made three Final Fours under Debbie Ryan and their star point guard Dawn Staley, now South Carolina’s head coach.
Virginia’s previous head coach, Joanne Boyle resigned last March to finalize the paperwork for her daughter, who is from Senegal -- but it is unclear when her daughter can return to the United States.
As one of women’s basketball’s all-time greatest players and rising star coaches, I’m looking forward to see what Thompson can do to put her mark on UVA’s women’s basketball program.