After rejoining the coaching staff on an interim basis midway through last season, Jamelle Elliott was named a permanent assistant coach for UConn women’s basketball on Wednesday.
“We are extremely excited to have Jamelle join our coaching staff,” Geno Auriemma said in a release. “Having the experience here as a player and coach, as well as head coaching experience for nine years, I can’t think of anyone that could bring more to our players, staff and university. Jamelle means the world to me personally and having her back is a dream come true.”
“She’s a great teacher, she’s a great communicator, she’s a great recruiter,” Auriemma said later on a Zoom call with reporters. “A lot of great things have happened to our program but this is right up there.”
Elliott replaced Jasmine Lister in February, who suddenly left the team after the Huskies’ loss to Baylor for a “leave of absence” with no further details given. In early May, Lister officially resigned her post. Auriemma expressed his disappointment in losing Lister but spoke about how lucky the team was to have Elliott around to replace her.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to go through that process,” he said. “Jazz was able to do a lot while she was here and when we had to find a replacement for her, we were very fortunate that we had someone right in our own building.”
After Elliott came on, there was a noticeable difference in Olivia Nelson-Ododa’s play as she transformed from one of the worst practice players in program’s history — in Auriemma’s words — to one of the best on the team.
Elliott brings a bevy of experience with her to UConn’s staff. She played for the Huskies from 1992-96 and helped the team capture the 1995 championship. After her playing days ended, Elliott joined the coaching staff in 1998 — a position she held until 2009, when she became the head coach at Cincinnati.
In 2018, the Bearcats surprisingly fired Elliott coming off the program’s best record in 15 years. However, Cincinnati’s loss was UConn’s gain as Elliott returned to Storrs as an associate athletic director to head the school’s new National C Club, a program designed to help current and former student athletes network and build connections.
That post allowed Elliott to take over Lister’s duties in February. Elliott continued to operate as an assistant even after the season ended.
Now, UConn has one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the country. Auriemma has been at the helm for 35 years with associate head coach Chris Dailey with him the entire time. Shea Ralph has been on the bench since 2008 and is joined by Elliott. Since 1998, the Huskies have had just five different assistant coaches.