A Hall of Fame coach is coming out of retirement to help Kentucky move forward from a season of upheaval.
Lin Dunn, one of the most accomplished women’s basketball coaches at the college, professional and international levels, is returning to the sidelines at UK.
Dunn, who retired in 2014, the same year she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, already had been serving as a consultant for Coach Matthew Mitchell and UK’s team for the last year. Specifically, she helped the Cats improve their offensive efficiency.
In a release through the school, Mitchell called Dunn one of his “greatest mentors and dearest friends.
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“She has helped me become the coach and person that I am today and I am forever grateful,” Mitchell continued. “With our staff now complete, it’s time for us to turn the page and take this program to new heights.”
Dunn, 69, is the third and final member of Mitchell’s completely revamped coaching staff, joining former assistant coaches Kyra Elzy and Niya Butts. The trio will be made available to the media on Wednesday afternoon.
UK also recently announced the staff addition of former standout point guard Amber Smith, who will serve as a player development coach and player liaison.
“He has put together such a great staff and I know working with Kyra, Niya and Amber will be a wonderful opportunity for me and one that I couldn’t pass up,” Dunn said in the release. “I am confident that Matthew and I share similar core values and I’m excited to get back on the court.”
Familiarity has been the common thread among Mitchell’s hires this offseason as he replaces his entire staff.
After Kentucky’s 25-8 season ended in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, the contract of one assistant, Adeniyi Amadou, was not renewed and the other two assistant coaches, Camryn Whitaker and Tamika Williams-Jeter, resigned their positions.
Mitchell said his goal was to build a staff that would stick around and provide a stable environment for Kentucky’s players after a rash of departures.
“They’ve got to have a stable situation from a staff perspective and that’s my job to make sure that we have a staff that can stick together,” he said in April.
Dunn, the WNBA championship-winning coach of the Indiana Fever in 2012, also was the first general manager and head coach of the Seattle Storm.
A vocal proponent for Title IX and women’s sports in general, Dunn went 447-257 in 25 seasons as a college coach at stops such as Austin Peay, Ole Miss, Miami and Purdue, getting to the NCAA Tournament seven times and the Final Four once with Purdue.
“When you think about those that helped pave the way for women’s sports, Lin Dunn is one of those names that comes to your mind,” Mitchell said.
In the release, UK included quotes from several national analysts, including LaChina Robinson, who applauded Mitchell’s final hire of this turbulent offseason.
“Her impact on the game of basketball is not just limited to what she has done as a coach, but in the number of successful coaches she has mentored,” the ESPN and Fox Sports analyst said of Dunn. “Lin just has a unique way of connecting with people, using her love for the game and infectious personality. This is a great hire for Kentucky.”