Melissa Jackson Named Akron Head Women’s Basketball Coach

The University of Akron Director of Athletics Larry Williams announced on Wednesday that Melissa Jackson has been selected as the head coach of the Akron women’s basketball program, pending formal approval from the University’s Board of Trustees.

Following her 10-year stint on the Zips staff, including the past six years spent as the associate head coach, Jackson becomes the 10thhead coach in Akron women’s basketball history.

“I am very confident that Melissa can lead our women’s basketball program to new heights of success.  She has an authentic and rare energy, and is incredibly organized and tactical,” said Williams. “Her years of service in our program give her a real head start both internally and within the external basketball and community circles.”

“This is a dream come true. The University of Akron means so much to my family and I am very excited for this opportunity. I look forward to leading the Akron Women’s Basketball program to excellence both on and off the court,” said Jackson. “I would like to thank our Interim President Dr. John Green, Athletics Director Larry Williams, and Senior Associate Athletics Director Mary Lu Gribschaw for this incredible opportunity and their belief in me. I am ready to build on the strong foundation and tradition we have established. The University of Akron is truly a special place.”

As the recruiting coordinator, Jackson was instrumental in bringing the Akron women’s basketball program to the forefront of the Mid-American Conference. Akron’s 2013-14 senior class marked Jackson’s first full recruiting class at Akron, and ended their careers as the all-time winningest class in school history with 74 victories over four years.

In 2015-16, two of her pupils, Anita Brown and Hannah Plybon, garnered All-MAC honors. Brown, who averaged 18.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals per contest, while connecting at a 47.3 percent clip from the field en route to earning second-team all-conference accolades. Plybon turned in a breakout campaign in 2014-15 registering 13.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game en route to earning third-team All-MAC honors. She set a then single-season school record for three pointers made with 97 and attempted the second-highest single-season total (260) in program history.

Jackson mentored five of the most prolific passers in Akron single-season history, Kacie Cassell, Megan Barilla, Ayla Guzzardo, Natasha Williams, and Shaunay Edmonds, while Cassell, Barilla, and Brown each rank in the programs top-ten for most assists in a career. Jackson’s coaching on and off the court helped Cassell become the programs all-time assists leader during her four-year career (2010-14) with 688 total assists, while she also holds the top two spots for most assists in single-season history (2012-13, 2013-14).

From 2012-14, Jackson transformed Hanna Luburgh into one of the most feared shooting guards in the conference. Luburgh left the program as the fourth all-time leading scorer in school history with 1,634 points. She also set the single-season scoring record as a senior, posting a league-leading 734 points. The two-time all-conference and all-MAC Tournament selection ranked 13th in the country in points per game.

Also under Jackson’s watch, Taylor Ruper earned All-MAC honors in 2012. During Ruper’s career at Akron, Jackson helped to develop her into Akron’s then all-time leading three-point shooter, and one of the best long-range shooters in the league. Four years later, Plybon under the guidance of Jackson, became the new all-time three-point specialist and ended her career with a program-best 313 triples made, including 104 three-pointers made in 2015-16.

Jackson joined the UA staff after helping to guide the University of Delaware program to three postseason berths – including a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2007 – in four seasons while in the same role from 2004-05 to 2007-08.

During Jackson’s time at Delaware, the Blue Hens captured a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) regular season championship in 2004-05, a pair of WNIT berths in 2005 and 2006, and earned an at-large bid to the Big Dance with a 26-6 record in 2007. Overall, UD posted a four-year record of 80-44 (.645) and won 71 percent of its conference games (51-21) during that stretch.

Jackson, who worked primarily with the guards at Delaware, helped mentor 2007 WNBA draftee (No. 18 overall) and former Detroit Shock guard Tyresa Smith and a pair of CAA defensive players of the year in Smith (’06, ’07) and Kyle DeHaven (’08). Jackson also played key roles in the recruitment of Jocelyn Bailey, a Top 100 player according to in 2008, and Tesia Harris, the 14th-best swing guard in the nation according to the All-Star Girls Report in 2007.

Jackson played four seasons at the University of Richmond and earned a political science degree in May of 2004. She appeared in 50 career games as a guard with the Atlantic 10 Conference power and earned WNIT berths in both 2003 and 2004. Her ’04 squad advanced to the semifinals.

A former All-State selection at Hazleton High School in Hazelton, Pa., Jackson is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has participated in a number of charitable programs, including Habitat for Humanity, Helping Hands and Adopt a Grandparent.

Jackson and her husband, Drew, currently reside in Bay Village with their sons, Luke and Ben.

Akron Athletics will be hosting a meet-and-greet with Head Coach Melissa Jackson following the Fourth of July holiday. Details will be announced at a later date.

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