Matthew Mitchell, former assistant coach at Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida, and head coach at Morehead State University, is the new head coach of the Kentucky women’s basketball team, director of athletics Mitch Barnhart announced Monday. The appointment is pending approval by the UK Athletics Association Board of Directors.
“Matthew Mitchell brings incredible passion and enthusiasm for the women’s basketball program at Kentucky,” Barnhart said. “He was here at the beginning of the transition of this program and helped lay the foundation for the growth that we’ve had. He aspires to continue the growth pattern that Mickie DeMoss put in place over the last four years, seeking to take Kentucky women’s basketball to championship levels.”
“I am extremely honored to be the coach at Kentucky,” Mitchell said. “So many people have put so much work into this program to get it to this point and I’m just excited to have the opportunity to lead the program and continue building a championship-caliber team.
“Every move I’ve made has been a mission to prepare myself for this moment,” Mitchell continued. “I’ve also followed my heart and it has led me to Kentucky. Two years ago when I was an assistant here, I felt I needed the experience as a head coach to be where I am today. I’m greatly appreciative of the opportunity that I had at Morehead. I’m ready to be the head coach at Kentucky.”
Mitchell, known for his recruiting ability and enthusiasm, compiled an overall record of 30-29 record (.508) at Morehead - the third-highest winning percentage in school history. He did a remarkable job with the Lady Eagles in a just a short amount of time. He helped them go from a 5-22 record a year prior to his arrival to a 16-13 overall mark and 11-9 league record in his first season. He also mentored the Lady Eagles to the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
In his second season, Mitchell guided Morehead to a third-place finish in the league with a school-record 13 conference wins. During the season, the Lady Eagles strung together a nine- game winning streak, the school’s longest in 20 seasons.
His two-year conference record of 24-16 (.600) marks the second-highest OVC winning percentage in school history. He was only the third coach in the history of the program to post an overall winning record during his tenure.
Mitchell is no stranger to the Southeastern Conference as he worked as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator under DeMoss at Kentucky from 2003-05. In addition to his tenure with DeMoss, Mitchell served as an assistant coach for three more of the most recognized names in women’s college basketball. He joined the Kentucky staff after three years at Florida, where he spent two seasons with Coach Carol Ross (now at Ole Miss) and one season with Coach Carolyn Peck. Prior to that, he served as a graduate assistant coach for the legendary Hall of Fame Coach Pat Summitt at Tennessee.
Mitchell came to UK in April 2003 and spent two seasons with the Wildcats, where he was a key factor in the development and improvement of UK’s post players. Under his guidance, center Sarah Elliott ranked in the top 10 in two Southeastern Conference rankings and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Forward Jennifer Humphrey flourished under Mitchell’s guidance, leading the team in rebounding and ranking 15th in SEC rebounding. She went on to become UK’s second all-time leading rebounder. As the recruiting coordinator, Mitchell also helped bring in the nation’s sixth-ranked recruiting class in 2003-04 by the All-Star Girls Report.
“I am excited for Matthew and for the program,” DeMoss said. “Having worked with Matthew at Tennessee and Kentucky I know what he’s capable of and he is very talented. I am confident that he can continue guiding the program on the right track with his leadership. Matthew’s knowledge of the game, his communication skills, his relationships with players, and his strong ability to recruit makes him the total package. The players will respond well to him and he will be able to relate well to the community. The Kentucky fan base will continue to grow under his leadership.”
Mitchell also served as an assistant coach and recruiter at Florida beginning in 2000. He helped the Gators compile a 51-36 record and during his first two seasons the Gators recorded a 19-9 league record en route to two NCAA Tournament (2001 and 2002) appearances under Ross. With Mitchell’s help, the Gators won a program-tying best 24 games and tied the school record with 11 wins in the SEC in 2001. He then served under Peck during the 2002-03 season. As the primary recruiter at UF, Mitchell brought in the ninth-ranked recruiting class in 2002 and the No. 2-ranked class by All-Star Girls Report for the 2003 class.
The 36-year-old native of Louisville, Miss., was a graduate assistant at Tennessee under Summitt during the Lady Vols’ run to the Final Four in 2000. UT advanced to the national championship game before losing to top-ranked Connecticut. The Lady Vols finished at No. 2 in the national polls with a 33-4 overall record and a 13-1 mark in the SEC.
Prior to Tennessee, Mitchell spent one year in Yazoo City, Miss., as a coach and teacher at Manchester Academy. He taught American history and served as both the boys’ and girls’ head basketball coach.
His first experience as a head coach came in 1996 when he took a job at Central Holmes Academy in Lexington, Miss. Mitchell performed multiple duties as the head coach of both basketball teams and also the football, track and golf teams.
Mitchell attended Mississippi State from 1993-95, where he received a bachelor of science degree in marketing.
He has one daughter, Lacy Mitchell, of Madison, Miss., and is married to the former Jenna Ramsey of Gainesville, Fla.
Mitchell replaces DeMoss, who coached the Wildcats for four seasons before resigning on April 11.
Year School Pos. Record
2006-07 Morehead State Head Coach 14-16, 13-7 OVC
2005-06 Morehead State Head Coach 16-13, 11-9 OVC
2004-05 Kentucky Asst. Coach 18-16
2003-04 Kentucky Asst. Coach 11-17
2002-03 Florida Asst. Coach 9-19
2001-02 Florida Asst. Coach 18-11
2000-01 Florida Asst. Coach 24-6
1999-2000 Tennessee Grad. Asst. 33-4
Total Record as a Head Coach 30-29, 24-16
Total Record as an Assistant Coach 113-73
Total Overall Collegiate Record 143-102
What They’re Saying About Matthew Mitchell
“I am excited for Matthew and for the program. Having worked with Matthew at Tennessee and Kentucky, I know what he’s capable of and he is very talented. I am confident that he can continue guiding the program on the right track with his leadership. Matthew’s knowledge of the game, his communication skills, his relationships with players, and his strong ability to recruit makes him the total package. The players will respond well to him and he will be able to relate well to the community. The Kentucky fan base will continue to grow under his leadership.”
- Mickie DeMoss, former Kentucky women’s basketball coach
“I’m so excited for Matthew. He made it clear to me at Tennessee that he wanted to be involved in the women’s game and I really enjoyed having him on our staff. I know he enjoyed working with Coach DeMoss at Kentucky as an assistant but I think it was good that he went away for his first head coaching job. It’s great to have him back in the league.”
- Pat Summitt, Tennessee women’s basketball coach
“Matthew Mitchell is a great hire for Kentucky. He can continue the great tradition that Mickie DeMoss started there. He has similar qualities as Coach DeMoss as he is out-going, has high energy and a positive attitude. He is not only going to be great for Kentucky but for the SEC as well.”
- Carol Ross, Ole Miss women’s basketball coach
“Watching Matthew as an assistant coach at Kentucky and Florida, I knew it wouldn’t be long until he became a head coach at a big-time program. It’s great to get a person with his energy, passion and knowledge of the game back in the SEC.”
- Dave Neal, play-by-play announcer for SEC women’s college basketball