Lady Vol Head Coach Holly Warlick Awarded Contract Extension

University of Tennessee Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer announced Friday that head women’s basketball coach Holly Warlick has agreed to a contract extension through the 2021-22 season.

“Holly has dedicated the majority of her adult life to Lady Vols basketball, and there is no one better suited to lead what is one of the most unique and tradition-laden programs in the sport.” Fulmer said. “In her six years as head coach—during which women’s college basketball has experienced a tremendous surge in parity—very few programs have produced the level of success that Tennessee has maintained.

“Holly and her staff have recruited at an elite level, and the young women in our program have developed on the court while also excelling academically. The combination of Holly’s leadership and love for her alma mater, the Lady Vols’ longstanding legacy of excellence and the most passionate fans in the nation points toward continued success in the future.”

Warlick has compiled a 153-54 overall record in six seasons as a head coach, guiding the Lady Vols to NCAA Tournament berths during each campaign. Only 12 of 349 Division I women’s programs in the nation have appeared in every NCAA Tournament the past six years, including just three from the SEC (Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas A&M).

In her first six seasons as a head coach at any level of basketball, Warlick has directed the Big Orange to three Elite Eight appearances (2013, 2015, 2016). Only three schools have more Elite Eight appearances than UT during that time (UConn, 6; Notre Dame, 5; and Baylor, 4). Tennessee, Stanford, Louisville and South Carolina have three each.

The 1981 Tennessee graduate is 71-25 (.740) in Southeastern Conference play, ranking first among active league coaches in winning percentage and second in regular season league titles won in what is regarded as the toughest conference, top to bottom, in the nation. Tennessee captured SEC regular season crowns under Warlick in 2013 and 2015 and a tournament title in 2014. The Lady Vols were the 2014 regular-season runner-up and the 2015 tourney runner-up.

Warlick ranks fourth in SEC wins behind coaches who’ve been at their SEC schools for 15 years (Gary Blair, TAMU, 33 total seasons as a head coach), 10 years (Dawn Staley, USC, 18 total seasons as a head coach) and 11 years (Matthew Mitchell, UK, 13 total seasons as a head coach).

“I am excited about the future of Tennessee Lady Vol basketball and appreciate the support of Coach Fulmer, the university and our tremendous fan base,” Warlick said. “My staff and I are excited about our combination of returnees and newcomers and are anxious to continue working with these young ladies and preparing them for the 2018-19 season.

“Women’s basketball and the SEC are the most competitive they’ve ever been, but our staff is dedicated to seeking out, attracting and mentoring the kinds of student-athletes who are committed to giving their all in competing for championships, earning their degrees and being successful after college in both basketball and life after sports.”

Rated No. 9 in Charlie Crème’s espnW “Way Too Early Top 25 for next season,” the Lady Vols return three starters and seven letterwinners from a unit that was 25-8 overall and 11-5 in the SEC a year ago. UT finished 12th in the final AP Poll and 17th in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll, posting impressive wins over Texas, South Carolina (twice) and Stanford along the way.

Returning starters include 6-2 forward Rennia Davis (12.0 ppg., 7.6 rpg.), 6-0 point guard Evina Westbrook (8.4 ppg., 2.8 rpg., 4.3 apg.) and 5-11 wing Meme Jackson (8.2 ppg., 4.2 rpg.). Top returning reserves include 5-7 guard Anastasia Hayes (9.3 ppg., 2.5 reg. 3.4 apg.), 6-3 forward Cheridene Green (4.1 ppg., 3.7 rpg.) and 6-4 center Kasiyahna Kushkituah (1.8 ppg., 1.4 rpg.). Davis and Westbrook were SEC All-Freshman Team honorees, while Hayes was the SEC’s 6th Woman of the Year.

In addition to returning the quartet comprising the consensus No. 1-ranked 2017 recruiting class, the Lady Vols welcome a 2018 freshman foursome that was ranked No. 4 by both and HoopGurlz/espnW. That group includes 6-0 guard Zaay Green, 6-0 point guard Jazmine Massengill, 6-3 forward Mimi Collins and 6-1 wing Rae Burrell. These are the best back-to-back signing classes for UT since a No. 5 unit in Pat Summitt’s final season (2012 signing class) and a No. 3 collection in Warlick’s first year as head coach (2013 signing class).

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