Just a few minutes ago, Baylor officially announced the hire of former Atlanta Dream Head Coach Nicki Collen as the next Head Coach of the Baylor Lady Bears basketball team. Collen had been with the Dream since 2018, when she was the WNBA’s Coach of the Year, and was previously an assistant with the Connecticut Sun (also of the WNBA) and five (5) different college programs over the prior fifteen (15) years. Collen played her college basketball at Purdue and Marquette before one professional season overseas in Greece.
Like virtually all Mack Rhoades hires, this one came a little out of left field. Speculation had run rampant in recent days that Baylor was pursuing NCAA Tournament darling Adia Barnes (Arizona), Joni Taylor (Georgia), Megan Duffy (Marquette), and Molly Miller (Grand Canyon), among others, with most of the reported momentum over the weekend going in the direction of Barnes or Duffy (although the fan boards fell in love with Miller). Collen was mentioned but only in passing since there were indications that we had been looking in the Atlanta area.
Regardless of the process, Collen will inherit a team that, if she can keep it together, should be among the best in the country on paper going into next season. That’s a big “if,” though, since the first recruiting job she will have to do is with our current players, including returning All-American Nalyssa Smith.
I will be completely honest and say that I know next to nothing about what style Collen likes to run on offense or defense and have a lot of research to do before I can opine about whether this is a good hire or not. My instant reaction is that some are going to be underwhelmed because hers is not the biggest name on the market, and this program was primed to make a splash. Whether we did that remains to be seen. Also, Atlanta’s records the last two season have been poor, but there are a lot of extenuating circumstances. So for now I’ll trust Mack to have made the right decision and welcome Coach Collen to the Baylor family!
#SicEm, Coach Collen!