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Former assistant coach returns to Penn State following a head coaching stint at Clemson
Women's Basketball: Courtside with Coquese - Episode 901
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Itoro Coleman enters year six with the Lady Lion program and takes the reins as position coach for the wing players, while also serving as Penn State’s defensive coordinator. In addition, Coleman will play a significant role in all recruiting efforts, opponent scouting and community outreach activities. Her enthusiasm and passion for the game shines through on a coaching staff dedicated to growing well rounded student-athletes and prepares them for the ups and downs of college basketball.
“Itoro is an outstanding coach in all areas and I am fortunate to have her on staff,” Washington said. “She is passionate about impacting the lives of our players and gives tirelessly of herself on and off the court. Her energy and enthusiasm for the game is truly outstanding and so infectious. Most significantly, Itoro is a tremendous teacher of the game and I am really thrilled to have her working with the wings again.”
Coleman was a member of Washington’s initial Penn State staff and spent three seasons in Happy Valley before returning to her alma mater, Clemson, as head coach from 2010-13. She rejoined the Penn State staff prior to the 2014-15 season, returning to work as Penn State’s recruiting coordinator and posts coach. She immediately impacted the Lady Lion’s national recruiting efforts, helping Penn State secure a top-25 recruiting class for the third time in her Penn State career.
During the 2014-15 campaign, Coleman spearheaded the recruitment of the No. 15 class in the country according to ESPN.com/HoopGurlz. The 2015 recruiting class featured a pair of five-star guards in Amari Carter and Teniya Page, and also touted two highly recruited post players, Ashanti Thomas and Jaylen Williams. Each of those players hail from a different state; Illinois (Page), Kentucky (Thomas), Massachusetts (Williams) and Washington, D.C. (Carter), adding to an already diverse roster.
While coaching the post players the past two seasons, Coleman helped develop her unit into one of the most athletic corps in the Big Ten. The 2015-16 season saw the emergence of Peyton Whitted as one of the top rebounders in the conference. Whitted posted career-bests in nearly every statistical category and posted her first seven career double-doubles – including three such efforts in the first four games. Her 256 rebounds last season come in at No. 21 on the single season charts, while her per-game average of 9.3 points and 8.3 rebounds more than doubled her career averages entering the year.
Along with Whitted, Thomas and Williams each showed growth throughout the season, while Kaliyah Mitchell continued to be a solid performer both in the paint and on the perimeter, averaging 5.2 rebounds and 9.5 points per game.
During the 2014-15 season, Coleman turned both Candice Agee and Whitted into reliable competitors. Agee increased her scoring and rebounding averages, going from 3.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game to 10.6 and 6.1, respectively. Whitted averaged over one rebound more per contest from her freshman to sophomore season (2.8 to 4.1) and ticked up from 2.9 to 5.1 points per game, including four straight double-figure scoring efforts during Big Ten play.
During her first stint at Penn State, Coleman served as the recruiting coordinator and guards coach. She was instrumental in the recruitment of the 2009 class, which ranked 14th by ESPN/HoopGurlz and the 2010 class, which sat 22nd in the rankings. Those classes featured All-Big Ten performers and future WNBA players Alex Bentley, Nikki Greene and Maggie Lucas, along with all-conference pick Ariel Edwards.
During the 2009-10 season, Coleman guided Bentley to Big Ten All-Freshman team accolades, as well as All-Big Ten third team honors. Bentley also garnered Full Court Press Freshman All-America third team accolades during her rookie campaign.
Additionally, Coleman led All-Big Ten performer Brianne O'Rourke to an honorable mention berth in 2008-09. O'Rourke was one of six players in school history to accumulate 1,000 points and 500 assists in her career.
In her first season at Penn State, Coleman was instrumental in the development of O'Rourke and Mashea Williams. The duo each registered career-high performances in the upset win over 10th-ranked Duke. The pair also combined to outscore the entire Michigan State team in the second half (24-21) in a key road win for the Lady Lions on national television. Coleman also guided O'Rourke to third team All-Big Ten honors as she led the conference and was 51st nationally in assists in 2007-08.
While at the helm of Tigers, Coleman recruited a pair of Top 30 classes, including signing the No. 14 player in the country in the 2012 class. In 2012, the Tigers broke the school record for blocked shots with 168 rejections, which was fourth nationally. Coleman and the Tigers topped No. 21 North Carolina, 52-47, in 2012 to give Clemson its first win over a nationally ranked team in eight years.
Also serving as an assistant coach for the Tigers, Coleman developed two All-ACC guards in Chrissy Floyd and Lakeia Stokes. The pair also earned Kodak Regional All-America accolades. Coleman also helped Clemson secure its first nationally-ranked recruiting class in 2003-04.
Coleman garnered the commitment and signing of South Carolina’s Player of the Year, LeLe Hardy, who went on to earn All-ACC Rookie team honors, as well as All-America accolades in 2006-07. Hardy led the ACC and was fifth in the NCAA in assists in 2006-07. Coleman was also responsible for recruiting Christy Brown, an ACC All-Rookie team selection, and D'Lesha Lloyd and Tasha Taylor, who were Clemson's top two scorers in 2006-07.
Prior to her time at Clemson, Coleman served as an assistant coach at Butler from 2000-02 and had a stint as a student assistant coach at Liberty University for the 1999-00 season.
As a player for Clemson, Coleman garnered Kodak District II All-America accolades, defensive All-America honors and was named an honorable mention Associated Press All-America in her senior season. Coleman – a three-time All-ACC performer – led Clemson to ACC Tournament championships in 1996 and 1999, claiming Tournament MVP honors in 1999. She ranks in the Top 10 in Tiger history with 1,409 points, 459 assists and 265 steals. Coleman was also selected to the ACC's 50-year Anniversary Team in 2002 and to the Silver Anniversary team that recognized the top players in ACC Tournament history.
Coleman was inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2008 along with her former head coach Jim Davis and six other Tiger athletic standouts.
Coleman continued her career after college in the WNBA, playing for the Indiana Fever in 2001 and the Houston Comets in 2003. She also participated in the Pan Am Games for Team USA, as well as several appearances in international competition as a member of the Nigerian National Team, including the 2006 FIBA World Championships where she led the world tournament in assists. Coleman accounted for 15 points with four three-pointers against the Team USA juggernaut at the FIBA World Championships. Coleman also played in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece where she captained the Nigerian National Team to its first-ever Olympic win.
Coleman earned her bachelor's degree in speech and communication from Clemson in 2000. She and her husband, Harold, have three daughters, Jada (11), Jordyn (6), Jasmine (5), and one son, Harold (Dutch) III (3).