Mitchell named UCSB’s new women’s basketball coach

Carlene Mitchell, who has spent the past 10 seasons at Rutgers with the previous three as associate head coach, was named UC Santa Barbara’s new head women’s basketball coach, Director of Athletics Mark W. Massari announced on Thursday.

Mitchell becomes the fifth head coach in Gaucho history, replacing Lindsay Gottlieb who was hired last month in the same position at Cal. Mitchell, who hails from DeWitt, Ark. takes over a program that has played in the postseason in 15 of the last 16 seasons.

“We are very excited to add a coach of Carlene’s pedigree to UCSB,” Massari said. “With what she has accomplished in her career to this point, I have no doubt that she will be able to carry on the legacy that has been established at this great university. She is a tremendous choice to represent UCSB, on and off the court, and we are very pleased to add her to the Gaucho family.”


In the first head coaching job in a distinguished career on the sidelines, Mitchell inherits a Gaucho squad that has won 14 Big West regular-season titles in the past 16 years.

“I look forward to the opportunity to coach at an institution that has so much history and continue the legacy of Gaucho basketball,” Mitchell said. “This is obviously a very special place and I am thrilled to be a part of it. After meeting the team I am excited to get on the court with this group and carry on the tradition of excellence that is UCSB basketball.”

Mitchell served as Rutgers’ recruiting coordinator since 2004 and consistently landed some of the best talent in the nation including four top-15 recruiting classes and the nation’s top-ranked class in 2006-07. In her time at Rutgers, coaching alongside Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer, Mitchell helped lead the Scarlet Knights to nine straight NCAA postseason berths and a spot in the NCAA Regional Semifinals in five of the past seven seasons.

“On behalf of our entire campus community, I am honored and thrilled to welcome Carlene Mitchell as the new head coach for our proud women’s basketball team,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “Carlene’s coaching career has been on a sharp and steadily rising trajectory of success. She is an outstanding choice for UC Santa Barbara. My wife, Dilling, and I look forward to joining all of our Gaucho fans and supporters at the games to cheer for Coach Mitchell, our coaching staff, and our outstanding student athletes.”

In addition to her recruiting efforts, Mitchell helped teach and mentor several former and current WNBA players, including Chelsea Newton, Cappie Pondexter, Matee Ajavon, Essence Carson and Epiphanny Prince.

UCSB, meanwhile, has produced the second-most WNBA draft picks in the west after Mekia Valentine was drafted by the New York Liberty last month.

While at Rutgers, Mitchell had an extremely supportive fan base – the Scarlet Knights averaged more than 3,000 fans last season – and will find a similar amount of passionate followers at UCSB which leads the Big West in attendance on a yearly basis.

Before joining Rutgers, Mitchell spent the 2000-01 season as the top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Oklahoma State University. She was responsible for both preseason and off-season conditioning, coaching the guards during practices, developing a defensive game plan for each of Oklahoma State’s opponents and working with the program’s summer camps.

Prior to her time in Stillwater, Mitchell coached for two seasons at Western Illinois University. While in?Macomb, Ill., she helped the Westerwinds make a remarkable turnaround from a 7-19 record to an 18-11 mark the following season.

Mitchell started her coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1997. Her responsibilities with the Kangaroos included implementing strength and conditioning programs, creating opponent scouting reports and organizing all team travel.

Mitchell was the starting point guard as a senior at Kansas State University during the 1995-96 season. She received a bachelor’s degree in social science from the school in 1996.

Mitchell also attended Allen County (Kan.) and Trinity Valley (Texas) Community Colleges. She helped lead Trinity to the first of their five unprecedented NJCAA National Championships in 1994. Named All-Conference and selected to the NJCAA All-Tournament Team, Mitchell still holds the single season assist record (337) and assists in a game (17) mark in the Lady Cardinals record book. She joined the school’s Cardinal Hall of Fame this past October, as a member of the Class of 2010.

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