After conducting a national search, Whitworth found that its best option for a new women’s basketball coach was under its nose.
Kenny Love, a former star on the Whitworth men’s team and an assistant for the last three years under Damion Jablonski, was named the new women’s coach on Monday.
“Coach Love really impressed our committee during the interview process,” athletic director Tim Demant said Monday.
“While we knew of his strong basketball IQ, great relational skills and proven leadership ability, forcing him to put aside his ever present humility, we saw just how strong a candidate he was for this position,” Demant said.
Love takes over a team that finished 10-15 overall and 5-11 in the Northwest Conference under Joial Griffith, who resigned last month after four seasons.
Love has been involved in all aspects of the men’s team operation, including scouting, recruiting, budget management, conditioning and summer camp organization.
“I’m most excited about the opportunity to help this talented group come together and chase their potential, while leading the program back to competing among the top teams in our conference,” said Love, who will move into his new job immediately.
Love was a three-year first-team All-conference honoree at Whitworth and made third-team All-American and NWC Player of the Year following his sophomore campaign in 2015.
The Pirates advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament during each of his four seasons.
Love joined former coach Matt Logie’s staff in 2017. Two years later, he became the program’s top assistant after Damion Jablonski was promoted to head coach prior to the 2019-20 season.
Whitworth’s men have three NCAA Division III tournament appearances and a record of 102-26 during Love’s five seasons as an assistant coach.
“From the time Coach Love stepped on to campus as a player and then as an assistant coach, he has played a significant role in helping his teams win,” Demant said. “I am looking forward to seeing him do the same with our women’s basketball program.”
The Whitworth women return nine players from last year’s squad. The top returnee is forward Olivia Mayer, a former Gonzaga Prep star who averaged 11.8 points and six rebounds last year as a sophomore.
Also back are guard Kimberly Dewey, a junior-to-be from Reardan who averaged 7.2 points while shooting 48% from long range; and forward Devyn Cope, who as a junior averaged better than four points and four rebounds.
Love will transition into the women’s role immediately.
“I know how important an environment of trust is, especially with a new coach in a program, and starting to develop that connection is a key focus,” Love said.
“We will also continue to round out our roster for the upcoming season with some exciting newcomers,” Love said.Jim Allen can be reached at (509) 459-5437 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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