Kentucky women hire WNBA assistant to replace Insell

jsmith3@herald-leader.comMay 1, 2013 

University of Kentucky women's basketball assistant coach Jeff House

CHET WHITE

There's always the honeymoon period with a new job, but eventually, Jeff House knows he's going to catch flack from the Kentucky staff for being the old guy.

House, a veteran WNBA assistant coach who has been in basketball for 27 years, is ready for it.

"As they get more comfortable with me, I'm sure I'll get comments about being the grandfather, the old guy," House said with a laugh.

But with his 47 years comes experience and he's hoping his experiences will be a valuable asset for UK Coach Matthew Mitchell, who officially hired the Chicago Sky assistant coach Wednesday.

"His years of experience at the highest levels of professional and college basketball will benefit the growth of our program greatly," Mitchell said in a released statement.

The UK coach met House in 2005 when he was an assistant at Virginia and the two clicked. Over the years, they'd kept in touch and after former Cats assistant Matt Insell left to become head coach at Ole Miss in March, House couldn't pass up the opportunity.

"There's only a handful of places in this whole country where basketball is really, really special and important, and this is one of those places," House said of Kentucky, which has advanced to the Elite Eight in three of the past four seasons.

The coach, who spent seven seasons with the New York Liberty and was on the staff that helped them win the WNBA Eastern Conference title in 1999, 2000 and 2002, also is an author.

His 2010 book, Mental Toughness Training for Basketball, was co-written with sports psychology performance consultant Mike Voight.

House hopes that expertise can help Kentucky rise to the most elite level of women's basketball.

"You look at the next step, what are those other things? I think leadership and mental toughness training and all of those things are facets you can work on and hone as much as basketball skills or strength training," he told the Herald-Leader Wednesday night.

"I've always been a big believer that those things can take your basketball team a step further."

In his five years as a UK assistant, Insell became known for his recruiting prowess, helping the Cats land their first McDonald's All-American and a small army of them since then. House has some recruiting credentials as well.

As Virginia's recruiting coordinator, he helped bring in three classes ranked in the top 15 by several national recruiting services, including the country's No. 3 class in 2009, according to the All-Star Girls Report.

House said nothing has been divvied out as far as staff roles or what positions he'll be directly coaching, but he's excited to come to Lexington with his wife, Ann Leonard-House, a former head women's volleyball coach at UMass-Lowell and Rutgers and their two children, Elizabeth and Thomas.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241 Twitter: @jenheraldleader Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com

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