Tennessee keeps giving to South Carolina.
Nine days after rising junior guard Te’a Cooper transferred to the Gamecocks from the Lady Volunteers, Dawn Staley added Tennessee assistant coach Jolette Law to her staff to replace Nikki McCray-Penson. A native of Florence, Law comes to the Gamecocks after six years at Tennessee.
The Knoxville News first reported the story, and a USC source close to the situation confirmed it. USC officially announced the hire Friday.
“The Gamecock championship culture drew me in and made me want to be a part of what [Athletics Director] Ray Tanner and Dawn Staley are building in Columbia,” Law said in a news release. “I am grateful for Coach Staley bringing me back home to South Carolina.”
Law is credited for landing Cooper at Tennessee along with several other dynamic recruiting classes, including the nation’s top-rated group for next year. Staley was seeking a recruiter to replace McCray-Penson, her ace who took the head job at Old Dominion.
Law checks all the boxes. She’s familiar with South Carolina and the Southeast and can step right in to help the reigning national champions convince the country’s top talent to keep USC where it is. Staley is already in on several of the Class of 2018’s top recruits; Law will try to turn that interest into commitments.
“I am excited to welcome Jolette to the Gamecock family,” Staley said in a statement. “Her experience as a head coach and recruiter will be instrumental as we continue to compete for and win championships. Her basketball knowledge, energy and passion for the game are invaluable additions to our program.”
Law was a three-time prep All-American at Wilson High before heading to Iowa, graduating in 1990 after helping lead the Hawkeyes to four consecutive Big Ten championships. She was the only woman on the Harlem Globetrotters’ roster from 1990-94 before starting her coaching career at Ball State.
After the 1994-95 season, she joined her college coach, C. Vivian Stringer, at Rutgers as an assistant. The Scarlet Knights became one of the country’s best teams during her tenure, reaching two Final Fours. Rutgers lost to Tennessee in the 2007 NCAA championship game.
Law received her first head coaching spot after that season, taking over at Illinois. The Fighting Illini reached the postseason twice in five years but failed to reach the NCAA tournament.
Law’s recruiting turned heads, though, as she signed the No. 3 class in the country in 2009 and found two more Top-100 recruits in the following seasons. She then landed at Tennessee.
“Amazing how things come full circle,” Law said. “I grew up a Gamecock fan, and today I’m proud to say that I am officially part of the Gamecock family. I chose to become a Gamecock for three reasons. First, it brings me closer to my mom, family and friends in Florence. Second, I get to work with Dawn Staley, a good friend who also happens to be a Hall of Famer, an Olympic coach and national champion. Third, the family culture and authentic spirit of the administration, women’s basketball staff, the young ladies on the team and everyone that touches the program is real.”
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