By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A familiar face has returned to the Tennessee Tech women's basketball staff, as head coach Kim Rosamond announced Wednesday that Crystal Kelly will begin her second stint as a Golden Eagle assistant coach.
"I have said for years that Crystal Kelly is one of the rising stars in our coaching profession," Rosamond said. "Her experience as an elite college athlete and WNBA player brings a unique perspective for our players, and the experience she has gained over the last two seasons in the Big East will be extremely valuable."
"Coach Kelly coaches with the same commanding presence she displayed as the all-time leading scorer and rebounder at Western Kentucky. She has an uncanny ability to relate and connect with players and an understanding of the game that is beyond her years. She will make an immediate impact as we continue our climb towards re-establishing Tennessee Tech as a championship program. We are extremely excited to welcome her home to Tech."
Kelly comes back to Cookeville after spending two seasons as an assistant at Xavier, where she was instrumental in numerous roles including scouting, recruiting and player development, as well as serving as the team's liaison for all academic affairs.
While in Cincinnati Kelly led the mentorship of Xavier's post players, a group that included A'riana Gray, who earned All-Big East Honorable Mention status in 2018-19. Gray led the Musketeers with 13.9 points per game, and led the conference in rebounding with 11.5 per game. She was the only Big East player to average a double-double for the year.
"I'm so excited to be back," said Kelly. "I had the opportunity to be with Coach Rosamond her first season, and that was such a great experience. To come back now, and see how (the program) has evolved over these last three years is something special. I've watched them from a far, but to be back as part of a team like this and the culture that she has put in place - it's going to be special. I'm just glad I have the opportunity."
As part of Rosamond's original Tech coaching cohort for the 2016-17 season, Kelly was primarily responsible for grooming forward Treyvonna "Trey" Brooks, who averaged 11.1 points per game, while leading the team in field-goal percentage (49 percent), rebounding (6.3 per game) and blocked shots (37).
Kelly's first stop on her coaching journey came at NCAA Division II Bellarmine University, where she spent four seasons from 2012-16. In her final season, she helped guide the Knights to their first Great Lakes Valley Conference championship in 20 years. Led by Kelly's prized pupil, unanimous First Team All-GLVC selection Sarah Galvin, BU tallied a 24-4 overall ledger, which tied the program record for winning percentage (.857). Galvin averaged 17.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game that year, while clipping at 51.4 percent from the floor.
Before launching her coaching career, Kelly was a third-round pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft, selected 31st overall by the Houston Comets. In three seasons in the league, she averaged 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds, and spent her offseasons playing professionally in Spain, Italy and Brazil.
Kelly also saw tremendous success during her college and high school careers. Regarded as one of the top prep athletes to ever come out of Louisville, Kelly was named the Gatorade Player of the Year twice (2003 and 2004), and also reaped Associated Press Player of the Year, Street and Smith All-America, Parade All-America, Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-America and Kentucky Miss Basketball honors in 2004. She led Sacred Heart Academy to the ultimate team prize in multiple seasons, keying the Valkyries to three consecutive Kentucky state championships from 2002 to 2004.
Playing collegiately at Western Kentucky, Kelly completed her four-year career as the program's all-time leader in scoring (2,803) and rebounding (1,285), and has her retired number 42 hanging from the rafters in the Hilltoppers' E.A. Diddle Arena. At the time of her WKU departure, her 2,803 points ranked 12th in NCAA Division I history, and today stands as 24th all-time. Kelly also holds Western Kentucky career marks for most field goals (895), free throws made (828) and free throws attempted (1,071). As a senior, she was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year while leading the nation in field-goal percentage at 64.8 percent.
"This was a very important hire – especially coming off the success we experienced in 2018-19 – and there is no doubt in my mind this was a home-run hire for Tennessee Tech women's basketball," said Rosamond. "Coach Kelly knows, understands and values what we teach daily in our culture, and she will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes. Crystal played a big part in helping us sign most of our current roster, and she already has very strong relationships with our current players. The trust and connection we have as a staff from working together previously will pay huge dividends on and off the court. Coach Walls and Coach Alli (Clark) are two of the very best in the business, and I am beyond fortunate to work with such an outstanding coaching staff."