Women’s Basketball Notes: Collins reunited with Clark-Heard at WKU

Greg Collins

Brad Stephens

Michelle Clark-Heard’s friendship with Greg Collins dates more than a decade, covering most of her coaching career.

The two will now be reunited at WKU.

Collins, an Arkansas assistant, was named to the same position with the Lady Toppers, the school announced Wednesday.

Collins’ work as a recruiter and X’s and O’s coach at Arkansas, and Louisville before that, made him a good choice for the job, Clark-Heard said.

“To coach in the SEC for the last five years, I feel very fortunate to bring him here,” Clark-Heard said. “I know that he’ll add a lot to the staff and the community, but I think the biggest part is that he’s just an unbelievable person.”

Collins joins former Weber State assistant Margaret Richards as members of Clark-Heard’s first staff.

Clark-Heard declined to bring any of the team’s three assistants from the 2011-2012 season back for the 2012-2013 year.

A Louisville native, Collins worked on the Louisville staff under former head coach Tom Collen before joining Collen at Arkansas in 2007.

Collins worked primarily with the Razorbacks’ post players while in Fayetteville.

He has been a contributor for the book “Five-Star Girls’ Basketball Drills” during his career, as well as being an advance scout for the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

Collins was also one of the first women’s coaches in the country to put advanced video software to work for a college team, according to Arkansas’ website.

“Coach Clark-Heard has been a good friend for many years and has proven to be a good coach and good recruiter,” Collins said in a statement. “I’m excited to return to my home state of Kentucky and be on the Coach Heard’s staff and help restore the winning tradition of WKU women’s basketball.”

Collins was out of town recruiting Wednesday.

Clark-Heard said she hopes to have her third assistant named in the next week.

WKU announces McGee and Wright signings

WKU’s signing class doubled in size in recent days, as Kilgore (Texas) College guard Bianca McGee and Louisville DuPont Manual High School guard Leasia Wright both signed National Letter of Intents.

The two join Green County High School guard Micah Jones and Jeffersonville (Ind.) High School forward Jalynn McClain as members of the 2012 Lady Topper Signing Class.

Clark-Heard said WKU was able to land McGee in large part because of Richards’ recruiting efforts.

Richards had been recruiting McGee at Weber State before taking a job on Clark-Heard’s staff.

“What we need is the ability to have some guards that can put it on the floor and score and she brings that to the table,” Clark-Heard said of McGee. “She has a scorer’s mentality.”

The 5-foot-9 McGee averaged 12.9 rebounds, 5 rebounds, 3.3. assists and 1.9 steals for Kilgore in the 2011-2012 season.

A Michigan City, Ind., native, she set a Michigan City High School record for career three pointers.

Wright announced her commitment to WKU on her Twitter account Monday.

The 5-foot-8 guard out of Louisville averaged 9.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.2 assists per game during her senior season while leading the Lady Crimsons to a state championship.

Clark-Heard said Wright was her “A-1” recruiting priority when she took over at WKU last month.

“We needed a point guard and when I got the job she was my first target,” Clark-Heard said. “… Manual High School has an unbelievable program and she brings that winner’s mentality.”

The Lady Toppers have two scholarships still available for the 2012-2013 season.

Louisville series on the horizon?

It’s been several seasons since WKU took the court against the state’s two other biggest programs, Kentucky and Louisville.

The Lady Toppers last meeting against UK took place on Dec. 4, 2008, yielding a 68-57 WKU win.

The Lady Toppers haven’t met U of L since a 76-60 Cardinal win on Dec. 16, 2007.

Clark-Heard said she hopes to re-boot both series in future years.

“(U of L head coach Jeff Walz) is already trying to get me to play already but I told him we’re not playing yet,” she said. “But we’re definitely going to do that and that’s something I look forward to. The competition is what it’s all about. Those are always great games… But that’s something we have to evaluate.”

Pat Summit calls it a career

Hall of Fame coach Pat Summit once sat in Clark-Heard’s living room, recruiting her to come play at Tennessee.

Clark-Heard eventually chose Paul Sanderford’s WKU program, but the meeting with Summit left an impression on her.

Summit retired Wednesday, stepping down from day-to-day head coaching duties and accepting the position of head coach emeritus.

Summit, who retires as the winningest head coach in women’s basketball history, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in August.

Longtime assistant Holly Warlick was promoted to the position of head coach.

“She just means so much to the game,” Clark-Heard said. “…When you think of women’s basketball you definitely think of Pat Summit.”