When Tina Thompson was named head coach of Virginia’s basketball team on Monday, her 12-year-old son Dyllan was impressed.
“When I told (Dyllan) the great news, he said, ‘Wait mom, are you kidding? I mean wow. Isn’t that a good program? Correction, great program. I am so happy for you. We will do great things there!’ My response to him was that I could not agree more. I am excited about meeting my team, getting to know them and pouring into them.”
A member of Karen Aston’s staff for three years, Thompson becomes just the fifth head coach in UVA history. Virginia athletic director Carla Williams made the announcement Monday afternoon.
“I am thrilled to have Tina Thompson as our new women’s basketball coach,” she said. “She is one of the best to ever play the game and she has experienced tremendous success at all levels of the game. I am looking forward to working with her and supporting her vision for Virginia basketball.”
Thompson joined Aston’s staff in May 2015. She was promoted to associate head coach last September. During her tenure at Texas, she focused on the development of the Longhorns’ post players. Texas recorded a 28-7 record in 2017-18, reaching the Sweet 16 in Kansas City. The Longhorns went 84-21 (.800) during her three seasons in Austin.
“My experience there has helped to prepare me for this moment,” Thompson said. “I want to thank Carla Williams for this coveted opportunity. I appreciate her courage and her outside-of-the-box thought process.”
Thompson arrived at Texas after a remarkable career in the WNBA, which began as the league’s first overall draft pick in 1997 and ended in 2013 as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
Throughout her 17-year professional playing career, Thompson was a four-time WNBA champion with the Houston Comets (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), a member of the WNBA’s All-Decade team, an eight-time All-WNBA team selection, a nine-time WNBA All-Star and the WNBA All-Star MVP in 2000.
After 12 seasons in Houston, the Los Angeles native returned to her hometown in 2009 as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks. She became the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer on Aug. 8, 2010, scoring her 6,264th career point to pass Lisa Leslie — a former teammate of Thompson’s at the high school, college and professional levels.
In international competition, Thompson won two Olympic gold medals as a member of Team USA in 2004 (Athens) and 2008 (Beijing). She has also participated in other professional leagues overseas. Following the 2001 WNBA season, she played for Rovereto Basket in Italy and in 2003 she joined the Kumho Falcons of the Women’s Korea Basketball League (WKBL).