Middleton named Assistant Coach on Kara Lawson’s staff at Duke

Duke women’s basketball head coach Kara Lawson has announced the hiring of Karen Middleton as an assistant coach.

Middleton, a 40-year coaching veteran with 17 years of head coaching experience, comes to Duke after serving as head coach of the UW-La Crosse women’s basketball team from 2016-2023. During her seven-year tenure with the Eagles, Middleton compiled a 111-58 record (.657), coached 18 players to All-WIAC honors while leading the squad to an at-large bid to the 2020 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Tournament.

“Karen has experience at different levels and in different roles. She knows what it takes to win,” said Lawson. “I wanted to find an experienced tactician to continue to grow our program and help us take that next step. I think she will blend well with an already established and talented staff.  I love the fact that every single one of our coaches were impactful players at the Division I level. Karen, like our other assistants, played the game at a high level. I think that resonates with players today.”

In addition to UW-La Crosse, Middleton’s previous stops include Cal State Fullerton (2015-16), Western Carolina (2009-15), Illinois (2007-09), Stanford (1997-2007), Eastern Washington (1994-97) and South Carolina (1991-92).  

A decorated player for South Carolina, Middleton played for the Gamecocks from 1987-1991, amassing 1,714 career points – currently No. 9 in school history – while setting the single-season (115) and career (317) school records for three-point field goals made. She was also a team captain, team MVP and two-time All-Metro Conference selection.

“I am extremely excited to join Kara and the Blue Devil family,” said Middleton. “This is a special opportunity for me to work alongside a staff that I respect tremendously.  I cannot wait to start working with the exceptional young women in the Duke program on and off the court.”


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