LEXINGTON - Former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) assistant coach Jeff House has been hired as an assistant coach for the University of Kentucky women’s basketball program, UK head coach Matthew Mitchell announced Wednesday.
House comes to Kentucky after spending 10 years in the professional ranks, including the last two seasons with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. During his 27-year career path, he has coached 19 WNBA All-Stars and major award winners along with four Olympians.
“I am excited that Jeff House is joining our staff at Kentucky,” Mitchell said. “He and I share a vision for this program that is based on the principles of honesty, hard work and discipline. He, his wife Ann and children Elizabeth and Tom are a wonderful family and we are proud that they now become part of our UK Hoops family. His years of experience at the highest levels of professional and college basketball will benefit the growth of our program greatly. I am thrilled that Jeff is a Kentucky Wildcat.”
“In the basketball world there are a handful of really special places and Kentucky is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when people talk about special places to coach or play,” House said. “It’s thrilling and humbling to be on a campus like this and at a university like this. I’m looking forward to working with this amazing staff, our student-athletes and being a part of the Big Blue Nation.”
After seven seasons with the New York Liberty and one year as the top assistant coach with the Washington Mystics, House joined the college ranks serving as the recruiting coordinator and assistant coach at Virginia under Debbie Ryan from 2005-2009. As the program’s recruiting coordinator his recruiting classes were No. 10 (2008), No. 3 (2009) and No. 14 (2010) nationally by multiple national services, including Blue Star Report, All-Star Girl’s Report and Collegiate Girl’s Basketball Report. House recruited and helped develop Monica Wright, who was chosen by the Minnesota Lynx as the second overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft. He also played a role in recruiting 2009 WNBA draft picks Aisha Mohammed (Minnesota) and Lyndra Littles (Connecticut) and 2008 draft pick Sharnee Zoll (Los Angeles Sparks).
With the New York Liberty, House was instrumental in the team’s 1999, 2000 and 2002 WNBA Eastern Conference Championship titles. Under his tutelage the Liberty made four appearances in the Eastern Conference Championship series, three appearances in the WNBA Finals and he coached in three WNBA All-Star games. House initially joined the Liberty in 1998 as the video coordinator and advance scout after spending the 1997-98 season as a member of the New York Knicks video staff.
“Being in the WNBA I was able to see what Coach Mitchell has done for Kentucky,” House said. “I came to practice here a few years ago to evaluate Victoria Dunlap and other players, and to see him take this program from where it was to now have it knocking on the door of being a national champion is really, really special. For me and my family to now be a small part of it is even more special.”
House played basketball at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y., before suffering a career-ending injury. He immediately jumped into the coaching realm, beginning his coaching career at McQuaid Jesuit High School also in Rochester while he was an undergraduate. At McQuaid, he served as an assistant to former Knicks and Houston Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy in 1985. In 1986, House was a key component to McQuaid’s run to the Class B, Section 5 New York State Championship.
A 1987 graduate of Nazareth College, House earned a bachelor’s degree in art education. He also received a master’s degree in teaching, guidance and counseling from Jacksonville University in 1991.
After graduation, House spent the next decade honing his skills as an assistant men’s coach, including four seasons (1988-91) at the University of Lowell as an assistant to former Miami Heat and Orlando Magic head coach and current ESPN analyst Stan Van Gundy. He also spent two seasons at Jacksonville University as an assistant coach with Matt Kilcullen and following the receipt of his master’s degree, four seasons (1992-96) as an assistant coach at Rutgers University during its transition into the Big East Conference with Bob Wenzel. While at Rutgers, House served as head coach for the 1995 People-to-People Sports Holland All-Star Tour. He directed a combination of Big East, Atlantic 10 and Big Ten All-Stars to a 6-1 record, losing only to Holland’s national champions.
House, 47, has been a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches for 26 years and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association for the last 15 years. He currently serves as president and on-court director of House’s HOOP Headquarters, a basketball skills and development company he created in 1996. In 2009, House also founded AllBasketballReview.com, a coaching, player and parent resource for all aspects of basketball development.
House has always been an active member in the community. From 2001-09, he helped executive director Ben D’Alessadro run a Virginia 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Virginia Basketball Academy, whose mission is to build character and shape lives through the game of basketball. The organization services over 1,000 boys and girls year-round in the Charlottesville area, providing skill and character development through a wide range of programming. In 2010, House helped establish the Junior Basketball League a boys and girls league for grades 1-4, as well as the Virginia Developmental Basketball League for boys and girls in grades 5-8. These leagues currently have nearly 80 teams participating.
While in New York, House worked closely with the Cheering For Children Foundation and The After School Corporation. He has also served as a regional presenter and coaching instructor for the New Jersey Special Olympics. House participated with the WNBA Read to Achieve program and the Junior WNBA/NBA coaching clinics and is a frequent speaker and volunteer for numerous charitable functions.
House and his wife Ann Leonard-House, the former head women’s volleyball coach at UMass-Lowell and Rutgers, have two children - daughter Elizabeth and son Thomas.