Rick Barnes’ situation with UCLA has stolen the spotlight for Tennessee athletics to start this week, but there’s reportedly been a couple developments with UT’s search for a new head coach for the Lady Vols’ basketball team.
According to info from long-time Knoxville reporter Jimmy Hyams, Tennessee Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer has interviewed two candidates for the Lady Vols’ position and has spoken with another. Hyams claims that Fulmer has interviewed former Lady Vol point guard and current Missouri State head coach Kellie Harper and NC State head coach Wes Moore. Hyams also states that Fulmer is “believed to have talked” to former Lady Vol point guard and current ESPN analyst Kara Lawson.
Fulmer has interviewed LVFL Kelli Harper (Missouri State) and NC State coach Wes Moore. He is believed to have talked to LVFL Kara @karalawson20, who does great job as ESPN commentator.
— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) April 8, 2019
Kellie Harper — then Kellie Jolly — played guard for the Lady Vols in the 90s. She helped Tennessee win three-straight national titles from 1996-98 as a point guard, and she was a head coach at Western Carolina and NC State before taking over at Missouri State. She took the Lady Bears to the Sweet Sixteen this season and has been a head coach for 15 years. The soon to be 42-year-old coach has compiled a 258-208 record as a head coach.
Wes Moore has never played or coached at Tennessee, but he has plenty of ties to East Tennessee.
Moore got his start as a head coach at Maryville College. Moore coached there for six seasons before taking an assistant position at NC State, then he accepted a head coaching position at Francis Marion in 1995. He left that position in 1998 to be the head coach at Chattanooga. While there, Moore compiled a 358-113 record, becoming the winningest coach in UTC history. He left his position at Chattanooga to accept the head coaching job at NC State in 2013 and has been there since. He’s taken NC State to back-to-back Sweet Sixteens. Moore will turn 62 later this month.
As for Lawson, she’s a former Lady Vol just like Harper, but she doesn’t have any previous coaching experience.
Lawson starred as the Lady Vols’ point guard under Pat Summitt from 1999-2003. Upon graduating, Lawson was drafted fifth overall in the first round of the 2003 WNBA Draft by the Detroit Shock. Five days following the draft, Lawson was traded to the Sacramento Monarchs. She would win a title with the Monarchs two years later. Lawson was also a member of the 2001 and 2008 USA Basketball teams during the the course of her professional career. During both stints, she helped guide the USA to a gold medal.
Lawson has been involved in broadcasting since 2007 and retired from her WNBA career in 2015 to focus on that career venture. Back in 2007, she became the first woman to work as an analyst for an NBA game when the New Orleans Hornets and Washington Wizards played. 10 years later, Lawson was named the primary television analyst for the Wizards, becoming one of the first women to be the primary analyst for an NBA team. Lawson just turned 38 in February.
Holly Warlick was let go as the Lady Vols’ head coach on March 27th after a disappointing 19-13 season and 7-9 record in SEC play. This past season marked the first time in over 40 years the Lady Vols failed to win at least 20 games in a season and was the first time ever the Lady Vols finished with a record below .500 in conference play.
Since the search began, one of the Lady Vols’ top players, Evina Westbrook, has put her name in the NCAA transfer portal as well.