WILMINGTON,NC (UNCW sports release) — Former Wake Forest standout and current Tusculum College coach Adell Harris has been named the 10th head coach in UNCW’s women’s basketball history.
Harris has heavy North Carolina ties and returns to her home state after being formally introduced at a press conference Thursday in the Golden Hawk Room of the William P. Nixon, Jr., Annex. Harris grew up in High Point, played at Wake and later coached at UNC Asheville.
“I’m extremely excited and fortunate to have this opportunity to lead the UNCW program,” said Harris. “I want to build on what’s already here, and I think we can keep moving the program in a positive direction.
“We want to stay focused on the vision for the program. We want to be in the top half of the conference, compete for the CAA championship and compete for postseason play.”
Harris, 31, takes over the Seahawk women’s fortunes following a successful three-year stint as head coach of the Pioneers, guiding the NCAA Division II school to a 61-30 overall record, back-to-back Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament championships (2010 & 2011) and three straight appearances to the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re delighted to have Adell join the Seahawk family,” said Jimmy Bass, UNCW’s athletic director. “She has an excellent basketball pedigree as a coach and player. Her record speaks for itself. Adell’s been a winner everywhere she’s been, and we expect that to continue.”
Last season, Harris guided the Pioneers to a 17-11 overall mark as the team posted victories over defending DII national champion and top-ranked Clayton State and 2012 NCAA Champion Shaw en route to the school’s fifth straight NCAA Southeast Regional berth.
Tusculum opened the 2010-11 season ranked third in the USA Today/ESPN Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll and finished the campaign with a 21-9 record as it captured the SAC regular season crown and repeated as league tournament champions.
In her inaugural season with the Pioneers in 2009-10, Harris guided Tusculum to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight after capturing the program’s first Southeast Region Championship. She also led the team to its inaugural post-season ranking, capping the campaign as the ninth-ranked team in the final USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll.
Harris has been instrumental in the development of many of the top players in Tusculum history. Guard Jasmine Gunn was named the program’s first consensus Division II All-American, Daktronics Southeast Region Player-of-the-Year and SAC Player-of-the-Year after ranking among the top-10 players in the nation in scoring (21.6) during her junior season. Gunn repeated as SAC Player-of-the-Year the following season to finish her career second in school history and third in league history with 2,180 points.
In addition, guard Kendal Baxter set a school and league record with 105 three-pointers during her freshman season on her way to earning SAC All-Rookie Team accolades. Center Catherine Hintz earned MVP honors at the 2011 Food Lion SAC Tournament and was selected to the All-Tournament Team at the 2010 NCAA Southeast Regional.
Prior to taking the reins at Tusculum, Harris spent six seasons at UNCA (2003-09), serving as an assistant and associate head coach. She helped the Bulldogs capture their first Big South Tournament title and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006-07 and mentored nine All-Big South Conference honorees, including a pair of BSC Rookie-of-the-Year honorees in Brittany Hendley (2004) and Kyla Jones (2007).
Harris was a four-year letter winner at Wake, playing in 106 games during her career with the Demon Deacons from 1998-2002. She paced Coach Charlene Curtis’ squad with 108 assists and averaged 4.6 points per game during her senior season as co-captain. Harris, who finished her career in 10th place on the WFU career assists chart, graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology.
A member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Harris began her coaching career as an assistant coach at her alma mater in High Point, T. Wingate Andrews High School, during the 2002-03 campaign. She also served as head coach of the Piedmont X-Press AAU team from 1998-2003.