Danielle O’Banion Named Women’s Basketball Head Coach
Former Memphis Associate Head Coach becomes the fifth coach in program history
Photos | The Danielle O'Banion File / What Are They Saying
KENT, Ohio – Kent State Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen has announced the hiring of Danielle O'Banion as women's basketball head coach. O'Banion takes over as the fifth head coach in the 37-year history of Kent State women's basketball after spending the last four seasons on staff at Memphis.
"Danielle possesses the characteristics we look for, not only as an institution, but within our department," said Nielsen. "She's a very driven person and someone who's very confident in her abilities. Her reputation as a winner and a proven national recruiter are sure to bring energy and success to our women's basketball program."
An 11-year coaching veteran, O'Banion takes over the Kent State program following her four year stint in Memphis, including the last two as associate head coach. Owning the reputation as a proven national recruiter, she served as designated recruiting coordinator for the program helping the Tigers ink three nationally-ranked recruiting classes. The highly touted classes fostered by O'Banion have lived up to their billing on the court as well guiding the program into the postseason each of the last three years.
With her guidance, Memphis has accomplished just as much in the classroom during her tenure. The program has graduated 29 consecutive seniors from its roster, not including the five-member class of 2012 (two of which already have their respective degrees). Just this last fall six student-athletes from the team achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
"I hold the responsibility of representing the Kent State Community in high regard and I am eager to help young people realize their dreams in the blue and gold," said O'Banion. "I could not be more excited to be here. I want to thank University President Dr. Lester Lefton, Provost Todd Diacon, Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen and sport supervisor Tom Kleinlein for giving me this great opportunity."
Classroom success and deep runs through the postseason are nothing new to the Arlington, Va. product. In 10 years as a collegiate coach she has been on staff for nine postseason teams, including a Final Four and two Sweet 16 berths while on staff at Minnesota from 2003-07. In addition she has been a part of two other NCAA appearances with the Golden Gophers in 2006 and at Harvard in 2002.
The 33-year old first joined the staff at Memphis in 2008 and was then promoted to associate head coach in 2010. During her time on the Tigers' bench she helped head coach Melissa McFerrin put the cornerstones in place for three straight 20-win and postseason squads, signing 15 players over two years. Those players helped Memphis to the finals of the 2010 Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) and in to field of the 2011 and 2012 WNIT each of the last two seasons.
In addition to serving as the Tigers' recruiting coordinator, O'Banion coached the perimeter players and directed the Memphis defensive attack with a pressure-oriented, full-court defense that quickly became the calling card for the program. Under her watch the team has averaged over 11 steals per game the last three years including a league best 11.8 spg in 2011-12 when the Tigers also led Conference USA with over 20 forced turnovers per contest.
O'Banion also assisted in the development of guards Brittany Carter and Ramses Lonlack. Carter is currently in the WNBA's Connecticut Sun training camp following a three-time first team All-C-USA career that was capped off by a Lowe's Senior CLASS Second-Team All-America selection. Lonlack meanwhile was named the 2012 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year.
Before making her way to Memphis, O'Banion spent the 2007-08 season coaching at her alma mater, Episcopal High School in Virginia, where she was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. Prior to her return to her alma mater, she spent five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota. Her time with the Golden Gophers marked her first opportunity to work alongside Coach McFerrin. Together they coached the Minnesota guards, most notably WNBA All-Star and Kodak All-American, Lindsay Whalen. The Gophers appeared in the postseason all five seasons of O'Banion's time in Minneapolis, highlighted by a 2004 NCAA Final Four and two NCAA Sweet sixteen appearances. O'Banion also served as the team's academic liaison at Minnesota, helping to establish women's basketball as the Big Ten leader in Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
O'Banion first entered the coaching profession in 2002 as an assistant coach at Harvard University where she helped legendary Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith's Crimson squad win the Ivy League championship and earn an automatic NCAA tournament berth in her only season on staff.
As a student-athlete she played for Boston College from 1997 to 2001. With O'Banion in the line-up, the Eagles captured the first two NCAA berths in school history in 1999 and 2000 advanced to the second round in both tournament appearances. A team co-captain as a senior, she earned a degree in psychology in 2001, receiving Big East Academic All-Star honors.
O'Banion is committed to growing and giving back to the basketball community. She is an active member of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and serves on two WBCA award committees. A 10-year member of the Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA), O'Banion will serve as President of the nearly 6,000 member organization until 2013. She is also a proud graduate of the Achieving Coaching Excellence (ACE) program, co-sponsored by the NCAA and the BCA. O'Banion is the daughter of Julia and Delancie.
What they Are Saying About Danielle O'Banion
"Out of all the out of state coaches that recruit Ohio, Danielle has long been considered one of the top assistant coaches in terms of respect by the centers of influence in the state. She will bring Kent State a quality team of high integrity and character that will return to prominence in the MAC. Ohio is a hotbed for women's basketball and she is so well respected in recruiting that she will certainly be successful in recruiting a lot of quality players in the state to Kent State."
—Tom Jenkins, Ohio Girls Basketball Report
"Danielle is the ultimate professional and, I think, a great young head coach. She certainly impacted the development of our program here at the University of Memphis, from both a recruiting standpoint and from a coaching standpoint. Kent State is very, very fortunate to have someone of Danielle's talent, character and expertise. She will be a great leader for the Kent State program."
— Melissa McFerrin, University of Memphis Head Coach
"I was so blessed to be coached by Coach Danny. I'm not sure I would be pursuing a pro career in basketball if I hadn't had her direction over the last four years. She pushed me when I wanted to be lazy. She challenged me and taught me how to still perform on the days I had the 'I don't feel like it' attitude. I wish her all the best because she deserves it. Kent State is very lucky to have a new head coach that is so knowledgeable and passionate."
— Brittany Carter, Memphis senior guard and Connecticut Sun training camp invitee
"Danielle has recruited several of our players over the years and has the reputation as a passionate coach with a great knowledge of the game. I am both happy and excited for her to get this opportunity and know that it won't be long before she starts attracting the top players in Ohio to Kent State."
—Jill Phillips, Princeton High School (Cincinnati, Ohio)
"I think Kent State is getting a great ambassador of the game. She is a professional, detail-oriented recruiter that will promote and brand the program to the highest level. I am extremely pleased with the decision and expect her to continue to have success on and off the court."
—Floyd Keith, Executive Director, Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA)
"Danielle is a fantastic choice to lead the Golden Flashes into the future. She will do a great job celebrating and acknowledging the tremendous tradition of the program while blazing her own path to future success at Kent State. Danielle has tremendous respect from the entire coaching community and is one of the rising stars in the game."
— Curt Miller, Indiana University Head Coach
"This is a great day for Danny and Kent State. Danny is a tireless worker, committed to the profession and to her student-athletes. She is one of the most loyal individuals I know. Her character separates herself from most in this profession with her honest professionalism and integrity. She is a great teacher, a disciplined coach and only expects the same excellence from everyone around her. We shared many successful seasons together and there is no doubt she will bring an infectious work ethic while surrounding herself with great people. She will make Kent State and the community proud."
— Pam Borton, University of Minnesota Head Coach
The Danielle O'Banion File
Birthdate: March 27, 1979 (33 years old)
Hometown: Arlington, Va.
Alma Mater: Boston College, bachelor's degree in psychology
Previous Coaching Experience
• University of Memphis Associate Head Coach, 2010-12; Assistant Coach, 2008-10
• Episcopal High School (Va.) Head Coach, 2007-08
• University of Minnesota Assistant Coach, 2002-07
• Harvard University Assistant Coach, 2001-02
• Boston College, four-year letterwinner (1997-01)
• Played for the first two NCAA Tournament teams in school history in 1999 & 2000 advancing to the second round both times
• Received Big East Academic All-Star honors
• Inducted into the Episcopal High School (Va.) Hall of Fame in 2009
• Was the first female athlete in school history to reach 1,000 career points
• Named All-State as a high school senior
• Also lettered in volleyball and in track and field
O'Banion's Coaching Log
Year School Position Postseason
2001-02 Harvard Assistant Coach NCAA 1st Round
2002-03 Minnesota Assistant Coach NCAA Sweet 16
2003-04 Minnesota Assistant Coach NCAA Final Four
2004-05 Minnesota Assistant Coach NCAA Sweet 16
2005-06 Minnesota Assistant Coach NCAA 1st Round
2006-07 Minnesota Assistant Coach WNIT 1st Round
2007-08 Episcopal H.S. (Va.) Head Coach
2008-09 Memphis Assistant Coach
2008-09 Memphis Assistant Coach WBI Finals
2009-10 Memphis Associate Head Coach WNIT 1st Round
2010-11 Memphis Associate Head Coach WNIT 2nd Round
O'Banion's Coaching Highlights
University of Memphis
• Helped lead the Tigers to three straight 20 win seasons for the first time in 14 years
• Has been on staff for three postseason appearances and four postseason wins
• Oversaw the development of the 2012 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year and a Lowe's Senior CLASS Second-Team All-America selection
University of Minnesota
• Part of a staff that led the Gophers to four NCAA appearances and one WNIT appearance in five seasons
• Advanced the NCAA Final Four in 2004 and Sweet 16 in 2003 & 2005
• Helped guide the development of WNBA All-Star & Kodak All-American, Lindsay Whalen
• Helped lead the Crimson to an Ivy League title and their first NCAA tournament in four years