HIGH POINT, N.C. -- DeUnna Hendrix has been named head coach of the High Point University women's basketball team, Athletic Director Craig Keilitz announced on Friday. Hendrix (pronounced dee-AH-nah) was an assistant coach last season as High Point went 20-13 and made its second Women's NIT appearance.
"As we went through the process of selecting a new head coach, it became clear that we had a great leader and a rising star in DeUnna Hendrix," said Keilitz. "DeUnna is a great on-court coach and is great at getting her message across to her players. Keeping continuity with our current players as well as our recruits will be a huge plus moving forward. This is an exciting day for High Point University women's basketball."
Hendrix played a large role in last year's success as High Point had its second 20-win season since moving up to NCAA Div. I in 1999-2000. The Panthers' 13 Big South wins were most in team history and HPU made it to the Big South tournament final for the third time. The team won a program-record nine games in a row in January.
"There's no place in the country I'd rather be at this stage in my career than High Point University," said Hendrix. "I want to thank Craig Keilitz and President Qubein for the opportunity to lead this women's basketball program. We will have success right away with the group of girls we have for next season. Our goal is to contend for Big South Championships every year and win games in the NCAA Tournament. We will do that by developing our players, not only on the court, but as people."
She replaces Jennifer Hoover, who left HPU to become head coach at Wake Forest University.
"I'm so excited for DeUnna, the kids and for High Point University - it's a great situation," said Hoover. "She and I have a lot of similarities in our coaching philosophies, which is why I relied on her so heavily last year. She oversaw our game planning and scouting and she's very good with her X's and O's. DeUnna is an exceptional recruiter, both in evaluating talent and developing relationships. I planned to bring her to Wake Forest with me but obviously this is such a great opportunity for DeUnna and HPU."
Hendrix plans to instill an up-tempo style of play with the ability to dictate on both the offensive and defensive end. The Panthers have several key players returning, including point guard Erin Reynolds and forward Cheyenne Parker who both earned All-Big South second-team honors last season. Under Hendrix's guidance, all of HPU's guards improved with Reynolds averaging 15.9 points and 4.3 assists in 2011-12. Parker was named Big South Defensive Player of the Year and ranked fourth in the nation in both rebounds (12.2) and blocks (3.7) per game.
HPU returns six of its top seven scorers from last season and added four newcomers: three-star recruits Tabitha Fudge and Ashlee Cole from the Atlanta area and Tori Cook and Jatzmin Johnson of North Carolina. High Point also gains the services of sophomore forward Stacia Robertson, who sat out last season after transferring to HPU.
Easing the transition will be Kevin Nicholls, who will remain assistant coach at High Point. Nicholls joined HPU last April and was a key part of the Panthers' successful season. He made a significant impact on recruiting.
"Kevin is a great asset to our program, his positive outlook and charisma make our players and recruits love him," said Hendrix. "We couldn't have done what we did last year without Kevin."
Hendrix joined High Point University last season after four years as a coach at Jacksonville University with head coach Jill Dunn. The Dolphins advanced to the Atlantic Sun championship game in three out of her four seasons, including 2011. The team went 23-9 in 2007-08, the best overall record in program history. Hendrix was instrumental in helping Regina Omoite finish her career as one of the top floor leaders in the history of the program, setting records for assists in a career (459) and season (154).
Prior to Jacksonville, Hendrix played at Richmond University under Joanne Boyle, who is now head coach at the University of Virginia. Hendrix was team captain and helped the Spiders to an NCAA Tournament appearance as well as the Women's NIT semifinals. The team posted two 23-win seasons. Hendrix earned her bachelor's degree in rhetoric and communications.
Hendrix went on to play professionally for the Jacksonville Cougars of the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League in the summer of 2008. It was the league's inaugural season and Hendrix was elected team captain.
Originally from Kokomo, Ind., Hendrix was a three-sport athlete during her prep career at Kokomo High School. She was a first-team All-State selection as a senior, leading her team to an undefeated season, a state championship and a No. 14 national ranking. She currently resides in High Point.