Jolette Law, previously the head coach at Illinois from 2007-12, will join recently hired assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Kyra Elzy and UT veteran assistant Dean Lockwood in filling Holly Warlick’s first coaching staff at Tennessee.
“I have known Jolette since she was a high school prepster we recruited out of Florence, South Carolina,” said Warlick. “Our Lady Vol teams competed against her while she was a standout player at the University of Iowa, and I’ve gone head-to-head in recruiting and coaching against her while she was top assistant to Rutgers’ Hall of Fame Coach C. Vivian Stringer.
“Besides the X’s and O’s of the game and her reputation as an excellent recruiter, Jolette is just a great individual and a terrific role model. She will be a great fit for us at Tennessee,” Warlick said.
Law, long regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the country, was named the seventh head women's basketball coach Illinois, and she led the Illini to a pair of postseason appearances while turning heads on the recruiting trail.
“I am extremely excited to be joining the Lady Vol family at the University of Tennessee,” said Law. “It will be an honor to work alongside Holly and such a great staff at UT. I am truly blessed to have an opportunity to help continue the legacy that Pat Summitt built. Her program is one I admired and respected for so many years as an opposing coach. It’s incredible to be part of the tradition now.”
Law went to Illinois following 12 years on Stringer's staff, including her last four as associate head coach. Known as a dynamic recruiter during her time with the Scarlet Knights, Law wasted no time establishing herself as a top recruiter at Illinois.
In November of 2008, she inked the No. 3 recruiting class in the country, the top-rated signing class in Illinois school history. Law followed up the historic 2009 signing class by inking two more top-100 recruits in the 2010 and one more in 2011.
On the court, Law led Illinois to 69 wins in five seasons, including two trips to the postseason WNIT. During her first season with the Illini in 2007-08, she guided the Illini to 20 victories, marking Illinois' first 20-win season since 1999-2000. The Orange and Blue made an historic run in the 2008 Big Ten Tournament, advancing to the championship game but falling just short of an NCAA?Tournament bid in losing to Purdue on a buzzer-beater. The Illini earned a 2008 WNIT bid and advanced to the third round.
In 2008-09, Law had a young Illini squad playing its best basketball at the end of the season, as the team finished 6-5 in the final 11 games. That momentum carried over into 2009-10, when the Illini started 7-1 out of the gates and finished the season with 19 wins and a trip to the WNIT quarterfinals. The team finished strong down the stretch in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. During Law's fourth season at the helm of the program, the Illini reached the Big Ten semifinals once again and downed No. 7-seed Wisconsin and No. 3-seed Michigan. Illinois followed up with five wins in the final half of the 2011-12 conference season, including a victory over No. 10 Ohio State, 66-65, at Assembly Hall.
In addition to the team progress, Law helped develop Jenna Smith into one of the premier post players in the country. A 2010 Illinois graduate, Smith became the highest WNBA draft pick in school history when she was taken with the 14th overall pick by the Washington Mystics in the 2010 WNBA Draft. Smith left Illinois as Illinois' all-time leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, thanks in large part to Law's tutelage.
Before arriving at Illinois, Law made a name for herself as a driving force behind Rutgers' rise to the top of women's college basketball. During her tenure, the Scarlet Knights saw remarkable success, including two Final Fours, three Elite Eights and three Sweet Sixteen appearances, among them the 2007 national championship game in Cleveland versus the Lady Vols.
Rutgers compiled a record of 257-125 (.673) during Law's tenure in New Brunswick, N.J., winning BIG EAST regular season titles in both 2005 and 2006 and the BIG EAST Tournament title in 2007. The Scarlet Knights featured 22 All- BIG EAST honorees, three BIG EAST Defensive Players of the Year and three BIG EAST Rookies of the Year. They also produced seven All-America selections and had eight players drafted in the WNBA during that span.
In addition to her tremendous technical expertise on the sidelines, Law also used her energetic and enthusiastic personality to help Rutgers bring in eight recruiting classes ranked among the nation's top 10 during her tenure, including three classes that were ranked No. 1 in the nation (1999, 2001 and 2006). Players such as Shawnetta Stewart, Usha Gilmore, Tasha Pointer, Tammy Sutton-Brown, Davalyn Cunningham, Rebecca Richman, Chelsea Newton, Cappie Pondexter, Essence Carson and Matee Ajavon, all of whom were drafted by the WNBA, benefited from Law's instruction and motivation on the court.
Law was a high school All-American at Wilson High School before graduating from the University of Iowa in 1990 with a degree in sports studies/corporate fitness. As the Hawkeyes' floor general, she helped Stringer lead the Hawkeyes to four consecutive Big Ten titles and a record of 105-18 from 1987-90. A Kodak District V All-American in 1990, she was a four-year letterwinner at Iowa and a two-time first-team All-Big Ten Conference selection (1989 and 1990). A member of the Iowa Hall of Fame, she still ranked sixth on the Hawkeye career steals list (205) as well as eighth in assists (353) and 20th in scoring (1,137). She also was a member of the 1988 Jones Cup Team.
Following her collegiate career, Law joined the Harlem Globetrotters from 1990-94 as the only current female team member, completing three worldwide tours with the team. As an ambassador of goodwill with the Globetrotters, she coordinated several basketball seminars and clinics in addition to her on-court performances. During her stint with basketball's greatest team, her picture appeared on Wheaties cereal boxes with her Globetrotter teammates.
After her playing career came to a close, Law spent one season coaching at Ball State (1994-95) before joining Stringer at Rutgers.
Law has utilized her skills and talents to create opportunities to participate in various national projects, including the "Great American Workout" with former president George H.W. Bush, the 1992 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Project D.A.R.E. in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Law has made a big impact on her hometown of Florence, S.C. Jolette Law Day was celebrated on Dec. 22, 1990, when she was presented the key to the city. Then in September of 2008, Law was honored the Florence School District One Distinguished Graduate.