Two-time NCAA National Champion and Tennessee native Alex Simmons has been named the head coach of the Memphis Tiger women’s basketball team. She becomes the 13th head coach in the program’s history.
A press conference and formal introduction of Simmons will be held at a later date. Fans can commit to season tickets online at www.GoTigersGoTix.com or by calling the Memphis Ticket Office at (901) 678-2331. Season tickets for the 2023-24 Memphis Women’s Basketball season start at only $49.
“My time at Gardner-Webb has been everything I could have dreamed of – from winning at Florida in my first game as a head coach to building this program into a Championship program,” said Simmons. “We had plenty of firsts in my five seasons and I am forever grateful to every single player who laid the foundation. They have definitely made me a better coach and I cannot wait to continue to support them and see them reach their goals on and off the court. I want to thank Dr. William Downs, Dr. Andrew Goodrich, Pam Scruggs, and Chuck Burch for their leadership and support and belief in my staff and this program.
“When I stepped foot on the University of Memphis campus, I felt the belief and saw the vision that the leadership sees for our women’s basketball program. I appreciate the belief and investment that the university leadership, Laird Veatch and Lauren Ashman, have put into this program. I am elated to be back home in the state where I grew up to represent the Memphis Tiger women’s basketball team. This is a basketball city and the passion behind this program is infectious. I’m looking forward to getting to work with this administration and getting on the court with these 901 Women. Go Tigers!”
Simmons comes to Memphis after five seasons at the helm of Gardner-Webb where she led the team to a 90-59 record including a 29-5 mark this past season. The Runnin’ Bulldogs broke multiple program, school and Big South records with their 29 victories and a 21-game win streak that included a perfect 18-0 record in conference play. GWU captured the regular season and championship titles for the program’s first trip to the Big Dance since the 2010-11 season.
Simmons, who was named as the Big South Coach of the Year, saw four of her five starters earn All-Big South honors in 2022-23, while Jhesskya Williams became just the third player in Gardner-Webb history to surpass 2,000 career points, finishing as the program’s second all-time leading scorer with 2,049 points.
Simmons’ basketball roots run deep to one of the most respected programs in the game. She played collegiately at the University of Tennessee under basketball Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt from 2004-2009, helping the Lady Vols win back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 2007 and 2008.
Simmons was a member of three Final Four squads (2005, 2007, 2008) and another Elite Eight team (2006) while serving as a team captain and was also the Lady Vols representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
“This is a great day for Memphis Women’s Basketball as we welcome Alex Simmons to our Tiger Family,” said University of Memphis Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Laird Veatch. “Her historic success, both as a player and coach, as well as her strong ties to the state of Tennessee and within the basketball community made her the obvious choice for us in continuing to grow the Memphis women’s basketball program.
“From her time as a player at Tennessee to leading Gardner-Webb to a Big South Championship, Alex knows what it takes to build and sustain a championship program. We’re excited for her and her staff to get started!”
“From the first minute of my first conversation with Alex, I knew she was the right person to continue the rise of the Memphis women’s basketball program,” University of Memphis Executive Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator Lauren Ashman said. “As a player, she learned from one of the best to ever do it in Pat Summitt, she coached with some of the best in the country at Kansas, Middle Tennessee and Ole Miss, and she has proven to be one of the best up-and-coming coaches in our game with her success as head coach at Gardner-Webb. Alex’s passion for the game and enthusiasm for working with young women is infectious, and we are thrilled to welcome her, her husband Christian, and her daughters Carsyn and Channing to Tiger Nation.”
During the 2021-22 season, Simmons steered the Dogs to an overall record of 11-13 and 10-7 in the Big South. Under Simmons, Alasia Smith was named the Big South Freshman of the Year after the five-time Freshman of the Week averaged 11.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG and led the conference with 4.0 offensive rebounds per game.
Simmons led the Runnin’ Bulldogs to an 18-11 overall record and 13-7 in Big South Conference play in 2019-20, finishing fifth in the league standings. GWU ended the season on a hot streak, winning four-straight games and seven of their last eight matchups before play was halted prior to the Big South tournament.
Under Simmons, Carley Plentovich earned a handful of accolades during the 2019-20 season, including All-Big South honors, as well as a Big South Player of the Week award. She also became the program’s 24th 1,000-point scorer, the first under Simmons, and was named to the Big South’s All-Academic team.
In her first season in Boiling Springs, Simmons led Gardner-Webb to a 16-15 record and 10-8 Big South mark in 2018-19 with a fifth-place finish. Two players – Plentovich and Williams – would earn All-Big South honors.
Simmons took over the Runnin’ Bulldogs in April 2018 after assistant coaching stints at Ole Miss (2013-2018) and Middle Tennessee State (2010-2013). She also served as a graduate assistant coach at Kansas (2009-2010).
Simmons was named to the WBCA Thirty Under 30 list in 2017 and, as director of recruiting, reeled in three-consecutive top-20 classes for Ole Miss. She also mentored a pair of All-SEC performers during her time with the Rebels.
Prior to her time at Ole Miss, Simmons served as an assistant coach at Middle Tennessee State, helping the Blue Raiders to three NCAA Tournament appearances during her time on the bench. Her work with the team’s post players produced an honorable-mention All-America selection and in the 2011-2012 season saw the Blue Raiders grab the most rebounds since 1983.
Simmons was a high school star at one of the nation’s most storied prep programs, earning Tennessee Miss Basketball honors at Shelbyville High School in 2004. She earned WBCA All-American honors and played in both the WBCA and McDonald’s All-America Games following her senior season. Simmons was also tabbed as an All-America player by Street & Smith’s and was a USA Today and Student Sports Junior All-America recipient in 2003.
Also a Street & Smith’s All-America Honorable Mention selection in 2001 and 2002, Simmons helped the Golden Eaglettes to Tennessee State Championships in 2001, 2003 and 2004. She was a three-time All-State selection, four-time All-District choice and was named as the Mid-State Player of the Year in 2003.
She graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2008 with a degree in exercise science. Simmons and her husband, Christian, have two daughters – Carsyn and Channing.
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