At 22-1, they’re tied for first place in the Big 12, and have already eclipsed their win total from 2014-2015 with over a month left in the season. Under Head Coach Karen Aston, the team has seen their win total rise each year since she took over in 2012. This year, the team is poised to advance the farthest they’ve gone in the NCAA since their Final Four appearance in 2003.
Needless to say, this year has been quite an introduction to coaching for the newest member of their staff: WNBA Hall-of-Fame occupant Tina Thompson. “I’m still adjusting,” she said with a laugh during a recent interview with Austin.com.
Fresh off of a great college career at the University of Southern California, Thompson became the first player picked straight out of college for the WNBA in 1997. She went on to win four titles as a key member of the now defunct Houston Comets, and became an eight-time All-WNBA honoree and nine-time WNBA All-Star. She’s even played overseas in Italy, Russia, and South Korea.
After 11 seasons with the Comets (the team folded in 2008), Thompson spent time with the Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm before retiring in 2013 as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
And after that? “I didn’t do anything” for about two years, Thompson said. “I wanted to give my full focus to my son Dyllan, who had been so patient with me during my career.” And she especially had “no interest in coaching.”
Thankfully, UT women’s basketball head coach Karen Aston had other ideas. She tracked down the number for Thompson’s home in Houston and called her up one day to ask if she would consider joining her staff in Austin.