USA Basketball on Jan. 20, 2012, announced that Olympic gold medalist and Washington Mystics assistant coach Jennifer Gillom will return this summer as an assistant coach for USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut) and the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. The selection, made by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Steering Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors, are pending approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“I thought it was exciting as a player to be a part of an elite group like an Olympic team,” said 1988 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Gillom, who also captured gold medals on a pair of USA World Championship teams and more recently served as an assistant coach to the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team. “But, to then become a member of the coaching staff and being a part of an elite group on an Olympic staff nearly 25 years later, it’s amazing. I’m just ecstatic about it all. The emotions are pretty much the same. My first time as an athlete was one of the highlights of my career, but now that I’m coming into it in a totally different area, as a coach, it is even more exciting. It’s from two different aspects of the game, and I’m proud of this accomplishment and overwhelmed to be able to do this.”
Having served as an assistant coach to the 2010 USA World Championship Team that claimed the gold medal, Gillom most recently served as an assistant coach for the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team. The squad, comprised of 11 collegiate players and one high school standout, went up against seasoned national teams and returned from the Pan Ams with a 2-2 record.
“A part of my duties as an assistant is scouting, and I was able to get a lot of experience with that at the World Championship and again last year at the Pan Am Games,” said Gillom, who on Jan. 17 was named as an assistant coach for the WNBA Washington Mystics. “I was able to scout Brazil in the Pan Ams and that kind of gives me a little bit of an advantage there. I have also been able to work a lot with the post players. I was able to spend a lot of time with Brittney Griner in the European training camp, which was exciting for me to be able to work with a player of her caliber and the other elite athletes on the team. I have a good relationship with many of our national team players from working with them at the World Championship, and I look forward to working with them again.
“It is important and very exciting for my mom to have two of her daughters who have participated in the Olympics, it means a lot to my family,” added Gillom, whose sister Peggie was an assistant coach alongside Auriemma with the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team. “My family is very supportive, and I think this gives them something to look forward to.”
In 2011 Gillom also assisted Auriemma and the USA National Team during its two training stints. She was a court coach during the team’s training camp that was held May 10-12, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nev.; and then aided the USA to a 3-2 record during its 2011 European Tour, Sept. 30-Oct. 9.
During her time as an assistant coach with the 2009-10 USA National Team, Gillom aided USA head coach Geno Auriemma and the USA to a 3-0 mark and gold medal at the 2009 UMMC Ekaterinburg International Invitational, a victory in the 2009 WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun game and a 3-1 pre-World Championship exhibition slate. In all, and including the 9-0 mark posted by the U.S. at the ’10 Worlds, Gillom has assisted the USA National Team to a 19-3 record and a World Championship gold medal.
A player on six different USA Basketball teams, Gillom won five gold medals and one silver medal during her international basketball career as an athlete and was named the 1985 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year. A 1988 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, Gillom helped lead the 1986 and 2002 USA World Championship teams to gold, was a member of the 1987 USA Pan American Games and 1986 USA Goodwill Games squads that earned gold and garnered a silver medal with the 1985 USA World University Games Team. Additionally, Gillom served on the 2005-08 USA Basketball Cadet and Youth Committee.
The 2009 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee was hired by the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks as head coach on Dec. 14, 2010, after spending two years with the Minnesota Lynx. She guided Los Angeles to a WNBA Playoff appearance, despite losing all-star forward and Olympic gold medalist Candace Parker to a shoulder injury just 10 games into the 2010 season. However, after a 4-2 start in 2011, Parker injured her right knee in the Sparks’ seventh game, a loss to New York. Following three more losses, Gillom was replaced on the Sparks sidelines on July 10.
The 2002 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship of the Year award recipient, Gillom was signed by the WNBA and allocated to the Phoenix Mercury on Dec. 9, 1996. She spent the first six years with the Mercury and closed out her WNBA career with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2003. A member of the 1999 All-Star Game West Team, Gillom was also named to the 1997 All-WNBA first team and 1998 All-WNBA second team. Gillom helped lead the Mercury to three playoff berths (1997, 1998, 2000) where they advanced to one WNBA Finals, losing to Houston in the ‘98 WNBA Finals.
Gillom enjoyed a lengthy professional career overseas prior to joining the WNBA playing for teams in Italy, Greece, Spain and Turkey. Spending most of her time in Italy, Gillom played in Ansona, Messina, Milan and Taranto and was selected to several Italian League All-Star teams. She was the second leading scorer in the Italian league in both 1994-95 (28.3 ppg.) and 1995-96 (24.6 ppg.). During her stint in Turkey, Gillom aided her Istanbul-based Galatasaray squad to the 1998 Turkish Cup and 1998 Turkish championship, while averaging a EuroLeague high of 21.8 points a game in 14 EuroLeague contests.
Gillom played collegiately for 2004 Olympic head coach Van Chancellor at Ole Miss, where she was the 1986 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Female Athlete of the Year. A 1986 Kodak All-American, Gillom earned 1986 NCAA Midwest Regional MVP and 1985 All-Mideast Region honors and was a four-time All-SEC first team selection. She led the Lady Rebels in scoring her final three seasons and finished, behind her sister Peggie, as Ole Miss’ all-time second leading scorer (2,186 points). During her four-year career (1982-83 to 1985-86), Gillom helped her teams to a 103-23 record (.817 winning percentage), four NCAA appearances, including a pair of Sweet Sixteens (1983, 1984) and two Elite Eight finishes (1985, 1986), as well as a share of three SEC West titles.