University of Illinois women’s basketball head coach Nancy Fahey announced Thursday (March 26) the addition of assistant coach Scott Merritt to her Fighting Illini coaching staff.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Scott to our staff,” said Fahey. “He is a proven winner and recruiter who has played and coached at the highest levels of our game. Scott has been an integral part of the success at Marquette. He excels at player development and I am excited for our players to grow under his guidance. His hard-working attitude and great character make Scott a perfect fit for our Illini family.”
Merritt, a former Marquette University men’s basketball standout and starter on the Golden Eagles’ 2003 Final Four squad, comes to Illinois after a six-year stint as an assistant coach at his alma mater.
“I can’t express how excited I am to join Coach Fahey’s staff,” said Merritt. “She has an amazing vision for where she wants this program to go, and I look forward to representing the Orange and Blue.”
During his time as an assistant at Marquette, Merritt helped turn the Golden Eagles into a national power. The program experienced an era of unprecedented success during his tenure, reaching as high as No. 8 in the AP Poll in 2019 – the highest ranking in program history. He helped lead the team to three Big East Championships, including the 2017 tournament title and 2018 and 2019 regular-season championships, also the first for the program.
From 2016-17 through the 2019-20 seasons, Marquette notched four consecutive 20-win seasons, including a program-record 27 victories in 2018-19. The Golden Eagles reached three straight NCAA Tournaments and were poised for an at-large bid again in 2020 prior to the tournament’s cancellation.
Merritt coached two consecutive Big East Players of the Year in Allazia Blockton (2018) and Natisha Hiedeman (2019), and as the primary coach for MU’s post players helped Erika Davenport become just the fourth player in Marquette history to reach 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
Merritt, a four-year letterwinner, graduated from Marquette in 2004, finishing as the Golden Eagles’ all-time leader in games played (126) and ranking 30th on MU’s career scoring list with 1,049 points, 14th with 697 rebounds, and fifth with 113 blocks.
Prior to returning to Marquette, Merritt served as Assistant AAU Coordinator at Development Through Athletics (DTA) in Milwaukee, and was a boys’ varsity assistant coach at Menomonee Falls High School.
Following his collegiate career at Marquette, Merritt spent nine years playing professional basketball overseas. He earned title game MVP honors in leading Bornova BLD in Izmir, Turkey, to a Division Two championship in 2008-09, and led Tochigi Brex of Utsunomiya, Japan, to a Japanese Basketball League title in 2009-10. Merritt was a two-time Japanese Basketball League All-Star, and was named to the Asia Basket All-Import squad in 2010. Merritt began his professional career in the National Basketball Association Development League where he led the Columbus Riverdragons to the 2004-05 title while finishing second in Rookie of the Year honors and earning second team All-NBDL accolades.Big Ten Illinois