ODU women's hoops finds Sunshine while weathering a storm

Ivory Latta, DeLisha Milton-Jones
Posted at 7:23 PM, Apr 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 19:31:35-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Old Dominion women's basketball found itself in the eye of the storm - suddenly without a head coach during the middle of a pandemic.

After a storm, the sun always shines and for ODU the answer to their problem was Sunshine herself, DeLisha Milton-Jones.

“Sunshine is a name that I acquired in my USA Basketball days," Milton-Jones said. "Nell Fortner, who is now the head coach at Georgia Tech, was our 2000 Olympic team head coach. Every day she would come into practice and we'd be stretching in our circle. Me being the youngin that I was, I had a big ole grin on my face like I was just happy to be there and she said, 'DeLisha why are you always smiling?' in her little country Southern drawl. I said I don’t know and she said, 'Well we’re gonna call you sunshine cuz you always smiling.'”

Now it's ODU women's hoops that has plenty to smile about after filling the head coaching vacancy with a coach who has plenty of experience winning.

Milton-Jones played in the WNBA for 17 years, where she was part of back-to-back Championships with the Los Angeles Sparks and three All-Star games.

On the international stage she was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and during the 2000 Olympics was teammates with her ODU predecessor, Nikki McCray.

“We go way back," Milton-Jones said. "We’ve become friends that turned into my sister from another mister.

"[Monarch hoops] is a winning culture and that’s a testament to Nikki and her championship pedigree. I myself walk parallel with Nikki in that and having a championship mentality in everything we do.”

Prior to getting the job at ODU, Milton-Jones was an assistant coach at Syracuse after serving as head coach of the Pepperdine women's hoops team.

She's now tasked with continuing that championship mentality while away from her players as everyone rides out the coronavirus pandemic.

“What is most important for me is to just be able to surf the waves as they come," Milton-Jones said.

And who better to weather the storm than Sunshine herself.