Former Duke Associate Head Coach takes over at NAIA William Jessup U.

NAIA William Jessup University has announced the hiring of former Duke University Associate Head Coach, Hernando Planells, as the new Warrior Head Women’s Basketball Coach.  Planells is charged to lead a program on the rise that has just experienced it’s two most successful and record-breaking seasons in school history.

“Hernando rose to the top of a ridiculously talented candidate pool that included elite coaches from every level of basketball including the professional ranks,” said Athletic Director Lance Von Vogt who is humbled and excited to announce Planells as our next head women’s basketball coach.

Coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons and the program’s first trip to the National Tournament in 2019, the Warriors continued to improve under former head coach, Kurt Westendorp who recently took a position at Ferris State, opening the door for high-caliber candidates to be attracted to the winning culture in Jessup women’s basketball.

“A few years ago it would have been unheard of to have a candidate of his caliber to apply for our coaching position,” Von Vogt commented, “however, the work by Coach Kurt and his staff along with the entirety of the Jessup athletic department and our university administration has paved the way for the Jessup brand to be associated with excellence thus attracting the top coaches from all levels to become interested in coaching here.”

“I am truly excited, honored, and blessed to be the head women’s basketball coach at WJU,” Planells commented and went on to thank Dr. Jackson and Lance Von Vogt for placing their trust in him to lead the program. “I am looking forward to working with our team on and off the court continuing to build off the strong foundation that Coach Westendorp has left here.”

With over 20 years of coaching experience from the collegiate level to the NBA G-League and Internationally, Planells also brings a wealth of knowledge in developing a winning culture through strengthening individuals through leadership, communication, and connection.

The Los Angeles native’s last stop was at Duke University where he served the women’s basketball program as an assistant coach from 2013-2016 and was promoted to associate head coach from 2016-2019. During his time with the Blue Devils, he was an integral part of the program’s success of garnering an ACC Championship, 2 Elite Eight appearances and a pair of Sweet Sixteen outings, all while putting together a top-5 recruiting class in the country each year. In 2015 he landed the number one recurring class on their way to a championship season.

Von Vogt is excited to continue the championship culture of Jessup women’s basketball as he believes Hernando will build on the program’s success. “Hernando brings elite-level character, coaching, care, and recruiting abilities to the Warriors and our women’s basketball student-athletes are going to be the beneficiary of his leadership. We expect Hernando to build upon the foundation we currently have and take us to the next level of becoming a championship-level program that is a flagship GSAC and NAIA program.”

Planells is looking forward to hitting the ground running with Jessup basketball and building the championship culture Von Vogt expects the Lady Warriors to achieve under his tutelage.

“Our mission is to compete for championships in our daily lives and on the court,” Phanells went on to say, “every day we are striving to be the very best – our players will understand and embrace the impact they can make each and every day!”

Adding to his realm of experience around the game of basketball, Phanells was named the youngest basketball coach in the country when he took on the Wyoming Golden Eagles out of the All-American Professional Basketball League in 2005. From there he went on to gain experience as a scout for Marty Blake, Director of Scouting for the NBA, from 2005-2010 and was an assistant coach with the Maine Red Claws (NBA D-League) from 2010-11.

Currently, Planells serves as the head coach of Basketball New Zealand U19 National Team where he has been since October 2018, while also running his business Be Contagious Leadership that helps organizations grow and strengthen their leadership, communication and culture through the power of improvisation.

With his wealth of experience and knowledge around women’s basketball, Planells is also a regular speaker at the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) convention.

“One of the biggest draws for Hernando is that Jessup is founded on Christ-centered principles,” Von Vogt said. “He will have an opportunity to intentionally share his faith and have it wholly integrated into his coaching of our student-athletes. His passion to impact our student-athletes and transform them through basketball for Christ is what we are most excited about.”

Planells understands that his success and this opportunity is the through the benefit of great mentors and credits those he has worked under and learned from, “I would also like to thank Joanne P. McCallie, my former head coach at Duke who gave me an opportunity in women’s basketball, my mentor Don Casey and my children Preston and Gabby for their amazing support and love!”

Coach Planells takes over for the recently departed Kurt Westendorp who returned to his home state of Michigan after being named the new women’s basketball coach at NCAA, Division II, Ferris State University, a school that he previously served as an assistant coach.

Photo Courtesy Jessup Athletics

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