Sasha Palmer named assistant women’s basketball coach at Wisconsin

Sasha Palmer, a native of Watertown, Wisconsin, has been named an assistant coach with the Wisconsin women’s basketball program, head coach Bobbie Kelsey announced today. Palmer replaces Stacy Cantley, who took an assistant coaching job at Western Carolina University. Palmer will also serve as the Badgers’ recruiting coordinator in addition to her on-court coaching duties.

“We are extremely excited to have Sasha join our staff,” Kelsey said. “She brings a wealth of experience from her time as a Division I assistant coach as well as leading her own program as a Division II head coach for a number of years. Her ability to coach on the floor, develop players to reach their ultimate potential as well as recruit high character, stellar student-athletes to Wisconsin will be unmatched.

“Sasha is a true professional in every sense of the word and will help elevate our program toward national prominence. We look forward to what this upcoming season will bring with her on board.”

Palmer comes to Wisconsin after serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the past two seasons at Syracuse University. The Orange were 45-20 in her two seasons, advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament both years. Syracuse also finished fifth both years in the Atlantic Coast Conference, going 21-11 in conference play.

Palmer aided sophomore Briana Day to a Syracuse season record 322 rebounds in 2014-15. The 6-4 center averaged 10.4 rebounds per contest, which ranked 26th nationally. She also ranked 19th nationally with 2.68 blocks per game and 38th nationally in double-doubles per game.

“I want to thank Coach Kelsey and her staff for giving me the opportunity to join the Badger program,” Palmer said. “It is an honor to be able to return to Wisconsin and be part of such a great university. I have not been back home in 20 years so this is an amazing opportunity to return to the great state of Wisconsin and to help put our women’s basketball program on the map!

“It was great experience to coach in the ACC with such powerhouse women’s basketball programs and I am excited to see what the Big Ten has in store. I am very excited to return home. Once a Badger, always a Badger!”

Prior to Syracuse, Palmer served as the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown for six seasons. She amassed an 87-80 record at the Division II school, including five-straight winning seasons.

Palmer proved to a strong recruiter in her time at Pitt-Johnstown. Among the talent she assembled was 2012-13 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Jasmine Harper and 2012-13 All-WVIAC selection and 2011-12 Freshman of the Year Kaitlynn Fratz.

Prior to her arrival at Pitt-Johnstown, Palmer spent four seasons as the top assistant coach at Shippensburg University. She spent six weeks of the 2005-06 regular season as Shippensburg’s acting head coach when head coach Kristy Trn was on maternity leave.

During her tenure at Shippensburg, Palmer worked with 2004 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division Rookie of the Year and two-time All-PSAC Western Division selection Shanna Oaddams, as well as Kim Strickland, who ranked second in career blocks and sixth in career rebounds for the Lady Raiders. Palmer also coached 2007 PSAC Rookie of the Year Lauren Beckley, who led the conference in scoring as a freshman.

Palmer (then Leverentz) graduated in 2000 from Northern Michigan University where she had an outstanding playing career for the Wildcats. In 1998, she led NMU to the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region championship, the first of three-straight regional championship game appearances.

As a senior in 1999-00, Palmer ranked fourth in the nation in scoring at 22.7 points per game and led Division II in total points with 703. She garnered All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division First Team honors, GLIAC Tournament Most Valuable Player and Second Team Daktronics All-America honors and Honorable Mention Women’s Division II Bulletin All-American accolades.

Following her career at Northern Michigan, Palmer competed professionally in Europe for two years, playing for Lausanne Olympic in Switzerland (2002) and Basket Club Racing in Luxembourg (2003). While in Switzerland, she averaged 29 points and 11 rebounds per game and was selected as a European All-Star. In Luxembourg, Palmer averaged 34 points and 13 rebounds per game, leading her team to the Luxembourg championship with only one loss. That year, she was selected as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Palmer also spent four years as a member of the four-time Women’s Eastern Basketball Alliance (WEBA) champion Harrisburg (Pa.) Horizon. In 2005, the Lady Horizon recorded the first perfect season in WEBA history, finishing the year 9-0. Four times Palmer earned All-WEBA First Team honors. In 2006 and 2007, Palmer took home WEBA Most Valuable Player honors after leading the league in scoring and rebounding in 2006 and scoring in 2007.

Palmer earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education/health from Northern Michigan University in 2001 and her master’s degree in organizational development and leadership from Shippensburg University in 2007.

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