DENTON (4/16/08) - Shanice Stephens has been named the University of North Texas’ fifth women’s basketball head coach by University President Dr. Gretchen M. Bataille and Director of Athletics Rick Villarreal. Known as one of the nation’s best recruiters, Stephens has spent the last three seasons as the associate head coach at Clemson and was at Rice for nine seasons prior to that.
"The University of North Texas is tremendously fortunate to have Shanice Stephens leading the women’s basketball program into a new era," Director of Athletics Rick Villarreal said. "After meeting with Shanice and talking with people around the country, it is obvious that she has a great knowledge and passion for this sport and a commitment to doing things the right way. Her outlook on success goes beyond the court and carries into the classroom and community. She has valuable connections to this region and her past experience in the state of Texas will help elevate this program to the championship level".
Stephens, 36, is the youngest head coach in the Sun Belt Conference and the second-youngest Division I head coach in the state of Texas.
During the past three seasons at Clemson, Stephens was the recruiting coordinator that saw the Lady Tigers sign some of the best classes in school history, including the nation’s 22nd ranked class in 2006 by The All-Star Girls Report. Lele Hardy, the first recruit to sign under McKinney, had one of the most prolific freshman campaigns in program history. Hardy was named to the 2007 ACC All-Freshman team and set numerous school freshman records in 2006-07.
"Athletics at UNT focuses on student success both on the court and off, and I am confident that our national search has identified a new head coach for our women basketball players who will guide them to both championships and graduation," said President Bataille.
Stephens, who has a reputation for developing great defenders, guided Hardy to an ACC-best 3.27 steals per game her freshman season. Hardy collected 98 for the season to rank second all-time in program history.
During her time at Rice from 1996-2005, Stephens was part of program that reached heights never before seen by the women’s basketball team. Rice won 20 games or more in six of the nine seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament twice (2000, 2005) along with trips to the WNIT in 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2004.
Along with the six postseason appearances for Rice, Stephens helped the Lady Owls to 179 wins and was part of a program that averaged just under 20 wins per season in her time at Rice. The 2004-05 season saw Rice capture a school-record 24 wins and its second WAC Tournament title and trip to the NCAA Tournament. In 1999-00 Stephens helped lead Rice to the WAC Tournament Championship and the school’s first ever NCAA Tournament berth.
Stephens had a significant impact in the development of four-time All-WAC selection, All-Time Top 50 WAC player and former WNBA player Marla Brumfield. Under Stephens’ guidance, Brumfield finished first in Rice history with 311 steals, and third in Lady Owl history with 1,703 career points scored. Stephens also coached Charonda Wilson, a two-time WAC All-Defensive Team selection.
Stephens spent three years as an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) coach in Oklahoma, guiding her 1996 team to the state championship.
Stephens’ coaching achievements have not gone unnoticed by others in the field. In December of 2006, the NCAA selected her for the
Judith Sweet Spirit Award. Stephens was then chosen to participate in the Achieving Coaching Excellence Program, sponsored by the Black Coaches and Administrators Association.
Stephens earned her undergraduate degree in 1993 from Oklahoma State where she earned two letters, was a member of two NCAA Tournament teams and was named to the All Big Eight Academic Team. The Cowgirls advanced to the Sweet 16 of the national tournament during her senior season. Stephens started at point guard for Austin Peay during the 1989-90 season, her first year of eligibility. She earned a masters degree in 1996 from the University of Central Oklahoma.
The former Shanice Bottoms is married to Garrett Stephens. She has two daughters, Sydney Alexandria (7) and Lauryn A’lyce (1), a son Grayson David born in November, and two stepsons Garrett (13) and Grant (8).
What others are saying about Shanice Stephens
Cristy McKinney, Clemson Head Women’s Basketball Coach
"I have had the pleasure of working with Shanice Stephens for 12 years. She is a hard working coach with a real passion for the game of basketball and coaching. Coach Stephens has a real gift when it comes to communicating with people and this gift serves her very well with players, recruits and co-workers. I have no doubt that she will do a great job with the North Texas women’s basketball program"
Jeff Van Gundy, ESPN Analyst and Former NBA Coach
"I think she has every critical element to be ultra successful at North Texas. She can really teach and I’ve seen that first hand. She communicates in varied ways and it’s all earmarked to reach each person. What sets her apart is she has the passion but also compassion, and that’s very rare that you see people combine both. She is a tremendous teacher and an even better person, but she will never lose sight of her number one job which is to impact the lives of student-athletes in a positive manner"
Willis Wilson, Former University of Rice Men’s Basketball Head Coach
"Shanice is someone who is full of energy, vitality, and I think she will do a great job at North Texas. She is very knowledgeable about the game one of the best things about Shanice is she can invigorate players and the way that she works with people"
Barbara Kennedy-Dixon, Clemson Associate Athletic Director/Senior Women’s Administrator
"Let me start out by saying North Texas has certainly hired an incredible young coach. Shanice Stephens has certainly been great at Clemson and she is one individual that has impeccable people skills. She is very organized and I have always seen her striving to be perfect at everything that she does. She is a strong recruiter who can connect with all kinds of young people, and does it with class. I’ve had the opportunity to see her recruit and she has just a great rapport with everyone she comes in contact with. I’m very sad to see her go"
Timothy Eatman, Arkansas Women’s Basketball Associate Head Coach
"Shanice Stephens strong work ethnic, family atmosphere, pressure defense and up tempo style will quickly turn around the Mean Green. Shanice is known in the coaching community for helping studentathletes believe in themselves on and off the court, and instilling the belief in them to succeed. Eight years from now people will wonder how the Mean Green was transformed and they all will point to the hiring of Shanice Stephens"