UK Women's Basketball

Kentucky the right choice for Figgs this time around

Ukari Figgs earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue and worked for Toyota in Georgetown.

She gave up that budding career to become a basketball coach, a decision that led the 1995 Kentucky Miss Basketball back to where things all began for her.

On Friday, Figgs was introduced as the University of Kentucky's new assistant athletic director for women's basketball.

"It's a great opportunity for me both professionally and personally," said Figgs, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Purdue after leaving Toyota. "... I grew up watching the University of Kentucky (teams). A lot of the players I tried to emulate."

Figgs will replace Pam Stackhouse, who left the UK program after eight years to become an associate athletic director at Bellarmine.

"She served the program unbelievably well," Coach Matthew Mitchell said of Stackhouse. "... It's sad to see her go."

Figgs led Scott County to the 1995 Kentucky state championship. She was a member of Purdue's national championship team of 1999 when she was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

Figgs played professionally for five years. She was a member of the Los Angeles Sparks team that won the 2001 WNBA championship.

When asked why she did not play for UK, Figgs said Purdue represented a better avenue to an engineering degree and a more realistic chance at a national basketball championship.

The latter is no longer true thanks to Kentucky's improvement under Mitchell's leadership, she said.

"If he was here in '94, I'd probably made a different decision."

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader