Shalon Pillow joins Blue Raider coaching staff

Former Lady Vol spent past five years at Kentucky

July 11, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell announced the hiring of assistant coach Shalon Pillow on Friday. Pillow spent the past five seasons as an assistant at the University of Kentucky.

The Addyston, Ohio native will share coaching duties as assigned, as well as help with the Blue Raiders recruiting efforts. Pillow replaces assistant Mariska Harris, who resigned from her post in June to focus on her family.

"We feel very fortunate to hire someone with the experience that Shalon has," said Insell. "She has played for Coach Pat Summitt and most recently served as an assistant at Kentucky the past five years. I am very happy to have someone of her caliber. She is classy individual and her presence will only help our staff. We expect her to get out on the recruiting trail immediately."

"I am very excited about the opportunity to work with Coach Insell and the rest of the staff," Pillow said. "It's a great time to be at Middle Tennessee. We have a tremendous top 25 program here and are on the brink of advancing further. I have been very familiar with the great history and tradition of Middle Tennessee women's basketball. I will fit in very well here. I am really grateful for this opportunity and can't wait to get started."

Kentucky posted a 137-39 record during Pillow's five-year tenure at UK. The Wildcats made three Elite Eight appearances and were SEC regular season champions in 2012. While at UK, Pillow was in charge of recruiting and scouting duties, while coaching the post players.

Pillow was instrumental in the development of Samarie Walker into one of the top post players in the Southeastern Conference in her first year with the Wildcats, averaging 8.7 points and 7.2 rebounds in her first season with UK. Under Pillow's tutelage, Walker was an All-Regional Tournament team selection at the Kingston Regional, and will pair with fellow transfer DeNesha Stallworth to form what many experts believe to be one of the top front courts in the SEC.

In her first season in the Bluegrass, Pillow's tireless and consistent work ethic blended in perfectly with the UK Hoops staff. She coached and mentored the Wildcat post players, which included forward Victoria Dunlap, UK's first SEC Player of the Year and first State Farm/WBCA All-American since 1983. The Wildcats also enjoyed a record-breaking season that included a program-best 28 wins, a second-place finish in the Southeastern Conference and an appearance in the NCAA Elite Eight.

In her second year, Pillow once again helped lead the Cats to an impressive season as UK advanced to its second straight NCAA Tournament and finished ranked in the top 25 of the AP poll. The Wildcats finished second in the SEC race with a school-record-tying 11 league wins.

Dunlap was again named SEC Player of the Year by the AP and she ended her illustrious career ranked No. 2 in career scoring and rebounding. Dunlap made history by becoming the highest draft pick in school history as she was the 11th overall selection in the first round of the WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics.

Pillow came to Kentucky after one season as an assistant coach at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., and three seasons at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla.

At Hofstra, Pillow coached the post players and helped the Pride compile a 16-14 record, which ranked as one of the top turnarounds in women's college basketball. Hofstra's 11-game improvement from the 2007-08 season ranked fourth-best nationally.

Two of her post players received all-conference honors, as Joelle Connelly was named the 2009 Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year, and Jess Fuller, who ranked seventh nationally in blocks, was named to the CAA All-Defensive Team.

At USF, Pillow was the director of basketball operations for one season before being promoted to assistant coach during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. She was responsible for scouting opponents and individual player development, and also assisted in the evaluation of potential student-athletes. She was also in charge of the team's academic program and helped organize coaches' clinics.

Prior to her coaching stints at Hofstra and USF, Pillow was Camp Director and Event Operator for the Ohio Girls Basketball Report (OGBR), where she was responsible for directing the largest 8-10th grade summer camp in the Midwest. She also directed the Top 64 Showcase, and handled pre- and post-camp evaluations. In addition to her position with the OGBR, Pillow served as a guest services representative at the Argosy Hotel in Lawrenceburg, Ind., from 2003-05, where she assisted in the facility's marketing and promotions.

Pillow, a 6-3 center, was a four-year letterwinner (1998-2002) at Tennessee under legendary coach Pat Summitt. She played in 108 career games and helped the Lady Vols advance to four NCAA Tournaments, including two Final Four appearances. In her collegiate career, the Lady Vols recorded a remarkable 124-5 record and a 53-3 slate in the SEC.

She graduated from UT in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in general psychology and a minor in communications.

Following graduation, Pillow played for the Tennessee Fury of the National Women's Basketball League during its inaugural season, and appeared in 20 games. She also served as an assistant coach with the varsity team at Taylor High School in North Bend, Ohio, from 2003-04 and worked the Lady Vols' summer camps from 1998-2001.

She was a highly decorated player coming out of Taylor High School, earning Nike and Parade Magazine All-America honors after averaging 22.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.1 blocks and 3.0 steals per game as a senior. She also was tabbed by USA Today as one of the top 20 scholastic players in America and was a finalist for the Naismith High School Player of the Year Award.

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