PHOENIX, April 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Grand Canyon University Vice President of Athletics Mike Vaught announced the hiring of Nicole Powell as head coach of the women's basketball team on Tuesday. Powell returns to her hometown, where she starred at Mountain Pointe High School from 1996-2000.
"I am thrilled and honored to become the next head women's basketball coach of Grand Canyon University," said Powell, a former WNBA All-Star and three-time finalist for the James Naismith Player of the Year Award while at Stanford. "I believe in the mission of this university and am excited to jump on board with this athletic department. I want to thank President Brian Mueller, Mike Vaught and (Deputy Director of Athletics) Jamie Boggs for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to lead this team. I can't wait to get in the gym and start working with our team. We are going to play with fierce determination and heart, making all of our fans and the Havocs proud to cheer us on."
Powell becomes the eighth head coach in the program's history and joins the Lopes after three seasons as an assistant coach with head coach Kelly Graves and the Oregon women's basketball team, which last month advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, before falling to defending champion UConn. Powell worked with the Ducks' forwards and wings as well as handling game plans and recruiting. Her recruiting efforts helped Oregon secure the No. 3 recruiting class in the country in 2016. The Ducks concluded the season ranked No. 16 in the country with a 23-14 record, including six wins over Top 25 teams.
"We are excited to welcome Coach Powell back home to lead our women's basketball program," Vaught said. "She is a high-energy individual who has a strong passion for working with people and is highly respected in the basketball world, having played and coached at the highest levels of the sport. She will be a great influence on our student-athletes and the university as a whole."
Powell met with her GCU players Tuesday and plans to hit the ground running.
"It's an exciting time to be a Lope," she said. "I cannot wait to get on the road and share what we've got going on here with recruits and their families. This is a special place and I know we are going to attract talented, high character student-athletes who want to win championships, but also have a strong desire to serve others.
"The culture of GCU is unique. Everyone from the top down is passionate about seeing this university thrive in order to give students a terrific education and an awesome campus-life experience. Student engagement from supporting athletics, to the arts, to being a real force for positive change in the community is amazing."
Prior to joining the Ducks coaching staff, Powell spent the 2013-14 season with Graves at Gonzaga, her first in coaching. The Phoenix native retired from the WNBA following the 2014 season with the Seattle Storm, her 11th year in the league.
After finishing her collegiate career at Stanford, Powell was the third overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Charlotte Sting. In her impressive 11-year professional career, Powell won a WNBA Championship with the Sacramento Monarchs (2005), was named the WNBA's Most Improved Player (2005) and named a WNBA All-Star (2009). The forward also led the WNBA in 3-point field goals made with 66 in 2005 and was first in free-throw percentage (96.4 percent) during the 2007 campaign and during the 2009 season (97.9 percent).
Powell ended her career at Stanford in 2004 as a three-time All-American and a three-time finalist for the James Naismith Player of the Year Award. She scored over 2,000 points in her four years with the Cardinal while grabbing over 1,000 rebounds. Powell guided the Cardinal to the Elite Eight as a senior in 2003-04 and was named the MVP of the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Region. Powell began her collegiate career as the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year (2000) and was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2002 and 2004. Powell helped Stanford accumulate a 105-26 record over her four years, as she averaged 17.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, while posting six triple-doubles in her Stanford career.
In addition to her WNBA career, Powell played professionally overseas as well. She helped Fenerbahçe win two Turkish League championships in 2009 and 2010 and also played for CSKA Moscow (Russia), Perfumerias Halcon Avenida (Spain), Basket Spezia (Italy) and Wisla Kraków (Poland). Powell also played with both the USA Junior National Team and USA Senior National Team. She won a gold medal with the junior team at the FIBA Americas Championships in the summer of 2000 and was one of three captains on the senior team that won a silver medal at the Pan American Games in the summer of 2003.
In her prep career at Mountain Pointe, Powell was a Parade Magazine First-Team All-American (2000) and named the Arizona Player of the Century by the Arizona Republic. Her senior season, she averaged 21.1 points and 15.5 rebounds leading the Pride to a 30-2 record and a berth in the state title game. She was twice named Arizona Player of the Year and set school records with 2,478 career points and 1,760 career rebounds.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT NICOLE POWELL:
Kelly Graves, Head Coach, University of Oregon "I am so excited for Nicole and the future of Grand Canyon. Nicole is one of the brightest young coaching stars in our business and I have no doubt that she will have Grand Canyon competing for conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances very soon. Nicole has an infectious personality and a tireless work ethic that will draw both high-level recruits and community support to her program. Nicole is the whole package in terms of her knowledge of the game and her ability to teach it to young people. She coaches with integrity and treats her student-athletes with respect. With Nicole at the helm, the future is bright for GCU basketball."
Jenny Boucek, Head Coach, Seattle Storm "Nicole Powell knows how to build champions both on and off the court. Nicole has experienced the world through basketball and has played and coached with and for some of the best in the game. She has absorbed and processed every step of the way with a desire and passion to give back to the next generation of young women. Her heart for young women, her knowledge of the game, her work ethic, energy and passion, and her ability to communicate and impart championship ways will all serve these young ladies and this university very well. The program is in great hands."
Jillian Alleyne, Center/Forward, Phoenix Mercury "Coach Powell is one of the best. Her ability to understand and teach the game at a high level is second to none. On top of that, she has a wonderful way of connecting and understanding all athletes. She has a steadfast work ethic and seeks the best out of every player she coaches. She's a difference-maker and GCU is lucky to have her."