NORFOLK, Va. (ODUSports.com) – DeLisha Milton-Jones, the two-time Olympic gold medalist and former head coach at Pepperdine University, has been selected as the new head coach of the Old Dominion women's basketball program, as announced by Director of Athletics Dr. Camden Wood Selig Friday afternoon.
Milton-Jones, who also had a decorated professional career in the WNBA and overseas, spent the past season as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Syracuse University.
"The women's basketball program is a point of pride for Old Dominion University and has a strong legacy of national prominence. I'm confident that under DeLisha's leadership, our student athletes will continue to excel on and off the court," said John R. Broderick, president of Old Dominion University.
"I am very excited to announce DeLisha Milton-Jones as ODU's new head women's basketball coach," said Selig. "DeLisha has experienced success at every level possible as a student-athlete, professional athlete, USA basketball team member and a coach. In addition, DeLisha has been a successful intercollegiate head women's basketball coach so she knows firsthand what the job entails.
"Coach Milton Jones had as good an interview with any committee I have ever witnessed. She will provide a seamless transition for a program on an upward trajectory towards national prominence. DeLisha will be an excellent role model for the young women in our program now and in the future. She will also connect instantly with all our women's basketball constituents who make ODU women's basketball the national brand that we are. I welcome DeLisha and her husband Roland to the Monarch family and cannot wait for the Hampton Roads community to get to know them both."
Milton-Jones has excelled at every stop of her basketball career. She started her college coaching career as an assistant at Pepperdine in 2016-17. After one season, she moved into the head coaching role and led the program to unprecedented success. In the 2017-18 season, she guided Pepperdine to 10 wins, the most at the Malibu school since 2012. In her second year, the Waves won 12 more games than the previous year by finishing 22-10, one of the best turnarounds in the country. The Waves 22 victories in 2018-19 also marked the program's most wins since 2002. Pepperdine earned a WNIT bid, the program's first postseason tournament, and then advanced to the Sweet 16 with wins over St. Mary's and Cal Baptist.
She left Pepperdine for the assistant coaching role at Syracuse following the 2019 WNIT run. Milton-Jones joined the staff of veteran head coach Quentin Hillsman. This past season, the Orange put together a 16-15 mark, highlighted by wins over No. 5 Louisville and No. 8 Florida State.
Milton-Jones is the eighth head coach in ODU's storied women's basketball history, replacing Nikki McCray-Penson, who left the role last week to become the head coach at Mississippi State. Milton and McCray were both members of the USA team that won the gold medal in the 2000 Olympics.
"My heart is filled with excitement as I step up to lead the women's basketball program at Old Dominion," said Milton-Jones. "I'm tasked with the responsibility of maintaining or superseding the exceptional work that is currently in place due to the relentless work of Nikki McCray and her staff. The history of this prestigious program is one that I'm intent on continuing with even more success.
"I'm very thankful President Broderick, Dr. Selig and the Board of Visitors have entrusted me with this grand opportunity to lead the women's basketball program and invest in the ODU community wholeheartedly. My husband Roland and I couldn't be happier.
"To our women's basketball alumni including Nancy Lieberman, Ticha Penicheiro, Clarisse Machanguana, Mery Andrade and the late Anne Donovan, it's an honor to know that you have paved a path of excellence for future Monarchs," Milton-Jones continued. "Thank you for your contributions, and your legacies will forever live on. I can't wait to get to work with this phenomenal group of current players. Let's go Monarchs!"
Milton-Jones's coaching career followed a long and successful professional and international basketball career. Drafted fourth in the 1999 WNBA draft, she played 17 years in the league, retiring from the WNBA in 2016 after setting the record for most games played in league history with 499, which was later broken by WNBA great Sue Bird. She helped lead the Los Angeles Sparks to back-to-back WNBA Championships in 2001 and 2002. She was selected to the WNBA All-Star team in 2000, 2004 and 2007. In all, Milton-Jones played for Atlanta, New York, Washington and San Antonio, in addition to Los Angeles. Her 5,571 career points still ranks ninth in WNBA history. She also made stops in Spain, Italy, Turkey, South Korea, the Czech Republic and Russia to play professionally.
On the international stage, Milton-Jones helped the United States win Olympic gold medals in 2000 and 2008. In the latter, she was coached by former ODU legend, Anne Donavan. She missed the 2004 Olympics with an injury. While playing for the national team, Milton-Jones also helped Team USA win FIBA Championships in 1998 and 2002.
Milton-Jones's first venture into coaching came when she was named interim coach of the Los Angeles Stars midway through the 2005 American Basketball Association. She became just the second woman to coach a men's professional basketball team.
Milton-Jones, who played four years for Carol Ross at Florida, had one of the most remarkable college careers at Florida, capped off her senior year when she was named the 1997 Wade Trophy Winner, the 1997 Honda Award Winner, the 1997 SEC Player of the Year, a First Team All-American selection amongst other highly-touted accolades. She scored 1,858 points during her career, helping the Gators to four straight NCAA tournament appearances. Ironically, her final collegiate game was a 53-51 loss to Old Dominion in the 1997 NCAA Elite Eight. She was named to the Florida Gator Hall of Fame in 2007.
Milton-Jones takes over a program with a storied history that has returned to the national spotlight in recent years. The Monarchs' 1,084 wins ranks top-10 in the NCAA all-time wins category. ODU also owns three national championships, 25 NCAA Tournament appearances, 17 conference championships and 55 All-Americans.
The Monarchs graduate just two seniors in Taylor Edwards and Ashley Scott, returning 11 players and three starters from its back-to-back 20-win seasons. The Monarchs wrapped up the 2019-20 season ranked 15th in the nation in scoring defense and field goal defense. Also returning is offensive sharpshooter Victoria Morris, who registered her 1,000th career point in the Monarchs final regular season game. Along with Morris, ODU will return two other Monarchs that averaged double-figures last season in Amari Young and Ajah Wayne. Both Young and Wayne were All-Conference USA honorees, and Aziah Hudson was the C-USA Sixth Player of the Year.
The Delisha Milton-Jones Profile
Hometown: Riceboro, Ga.
College: Florida, 1993-1997
Birthday: September 11, 1974
2020-present: Old Dominion (Head Coach)
2019-2020: Syracuse (Assistant Coach & Recruiting Coordinator)
2017-2019: Pepperdine (Head Coach)
2016-2017: Pepperdine (Assistant Coach)
WNBA Playing Career
- Fourth overall pick in 1999
- Played 17 years with five teams (Los Angeles Sparks, Washington Mystics, San Antonio Silver Stars, New York Liberty, Atlanta Dream)
- Three-time WNBA All-Star
USA Basketball Career
- Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2000, 2008)
- FIBA Bronze Medalist (2006)
- FIBA World Champions (1998, 2002)
- USA National Team Member (1998, 2002, 2006-08)
Collegiate Playing Career
- 1997 SEC Player of the Year
- 1997 Wade Trophy Winner
- 1997 Honda Sports Award Winner
- 1997 First Team All-America (AP, Kodak, Basketball Times)
- Two-time First Team All-SEC (1996,1997)
- Competed in four NCAA Tournaments
- Advanced to the Elite Eight (1997)
The Wade Trophy recognizes the nation's top senior
The Honda Sports Award is presented to the nation's best basketball player
What They're Saying About Milton-Jones
"I can't think of anyone else who would be better for Old Dominion than DeLisha. With what Nikki has done with the program, you had to hire someone with credentials. You had to hire someone with cachet and DeLisha has that. Google her name. Her record speaks for itself. She's going to do great things at ODU."
Nancy Lieberman, two-time Wade Trophy winner and All-American at ODU
"To coach DeLisha, both at the University of Florida & later with the LA Sparks was one of the great honors of my career. Her passion, dedication and competitive spirit were a gift to the game and a coach's dream."
Carol Ross, DeLisha Milton's-Jones former coach at Florida and the LA Sparks
"I think this is a great hire for Old Dominion and the WBB program. DeLisha has a stellar background as Olympian, veteran WNBA player and now as a college coach at several universities. She's clearly ready for this next stop. Her passion for the game of basketball and her enthusiasm for the people with home she's in the trench is unmatched. I'm excited and know that she'll continuing the winning culture that is hallmark of ODU women's basketball."
Marianne Stanley, head coach, Indiana Fever, former ODU women's basketball coach (1977-87) – When Marianne was an assistant with the Los Angeles Sparks, she coached DeLisha, and the coached against her many times during DeLisha's WNBA career.
"DeLisha has proven to be successful as a player at the highest level and as a head coach at the collegiate level. Her contagious enthusiasm and ability to forge strong relationships with players and colleagues are important strengths. She knows what it takes to be successful and will continue the proud tradition of Old Dominion University's women's basketball program."
Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women's National Team Director
"I am very happy for DeLisha and know the future of ODU women's basketball is in good hands. We are thankful for all the knowledge she brought to our program and wish her the best in her next chapter"
Quentin Hillsman, head women's basketball coach at Syracuse. DeLisha coached under Hillsman this past season.
"DeLisha is a home run hire for ODU. She has been a champion at every level of the game and will bring the championship mindset to ODU. Her team will be a reflection of her work ethic and competitive spirit. Monarch fans will enjoy her infectious energy as she continues to expand ODU's winning culture. Kudos to ODU for their hire of DeLisha – today we add another minority woman to the Division I coaching level."
Dawn Staley, head women's basketball coach at South Carolina. Played on the US Women's Basketball team with Milton-Jones
"I know it's hard for the fan base there losing Nikki. But I don't think Old Dominion could have made a better choice. She is such a great competitor. Her personality is infectious. She's one of those people who when you talk to her, you feel like you already know her.
"The fans will love her. She's outgoing and really connects with people."
Mel Greenberg, former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter; covered women's basketball for half a century