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Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard to join Winthrop staff

Former Kansas Jayhawks interim coach Lynette Woodard, center, joined Winthrop’s staff on Monday. (File Associated Press)
Former Kansas Jayhawks interim coach Lynette Woodard, center, joined Winthrop’s staff on Monday. (File Associated Press)
By Pete Iacobelli Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard wanted a new start in college coaching. Winthrop, with her old friend Kevin Cook, seemed like a perfect place.

Woodard took her first coaching position since she was interim coach for alma mater Kansas in 2003-04. She spent four seasons as a Jayhawks assistant alongside Cook, now the Eagles’ fifth-year head coach.

“I am very excited to be here at Winthrop,” Woodard said. “It’s a new beginning and it gives me the opportunity to get reacquainted with coach Cook.”

And to get familiar with the game Woodard once dominated. Woodard played at Kansas from 1977-81 and helped USA Basketball forge the women’s powerhouse that’s expected to be on display once more at the Rio Olympics this month.

Woodard, a two-time Olympian, won gold at the Los Angeles Games in 1984. The next year, she became the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.

Woodard played professionally overseas (there were no U.S. women’s leagues) before coming back to the United States to work in business and become athletic director for the Kansas City, Kansas, school system. In 1997, she came out of retirement to play two seasons in the WNBA.

Woodard joined college coaching at her alma mater in 1999 and was named interim head coach in 2003-04.

She most recently worked at Wichita State, administering two federally funded education programs helping underprivileged students.

Cook was overjoyed that Woodard, 56, signed on to help the Eagles.

“If there were a Mt. Rushmore of women’s basketball players, Lynette would be on it,” Cook said.

Woodard was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, the Globetrotters Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.

For Woodard, though, the chance to work developing young players will be her focus.

“I’m looking forward to working with our young team, helping them to develop into the players we want to see them become, and become winners and champions here at Winthrop and beyond,” she said. “I can say that I am ready to give 100 percent and pour into these young people and help them be the best they can be.”

Winthrop has had four winning seasons in Cook’s five years, including winning the Big South Conference Tournament and making the NCAA Tournament in 2013-14. The Eagles, however, went 4-26 last season.

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