The American Dream Story of Shereka Wright, UTA Lady Mavs Head Basketball Coach
By UT Arlington Communications
Posted on November 02, 2022, November 02, 2022

Basketball legend Shereka Wright is living her American Dream right here in Arlington as head basketball coach of the University of Texas at Arlington Lady Mavericks

The 2022 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, Wright has made an incredible impact on the Lady Mavs program in only two short seasons.

Wright comes off a historic season, guiding the Lady Mavs to a 20-8 record and the Sun Belt Tournament Championship. That earned the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history and the first since 2007.

For her efforts, Wright was named SBC Coach of the Year in addition to Texas Coach of the Year by Dave Campbell's Texas Basketball.

Wright checked off numerous accolades throughout the 2021-22 campaign, including the program's first-ever win over a ranked opponent, defeating No. 13/17 South Florida, 61-56, on Dec. 2, 2021.

Wright was also named the National Coach of the Week after a pair of come-from-behind overtime victories over Houston and North Texas early in the season.

She became the second coach in school history to have 10 or more wins in conference play in back-to-back seasons, joining just Samantha Morrow in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. Wright also led UTA to their best ever road record based on winning percentage at 9-2 (.818) including an incredible 7-1 record in SBC play.

Wright coached up the SBC Player of the Year in Starr Jacobs, who went on to earn SBC Tournament MVP and became the first player in Lady Mavs history to average 20 points per game or more (21.0). She also guided Terryn Milton to all-conference honors as well as a spot on the SBC All-Tournament Team.

UTA concluded its magical season with a close loss to Iowa State in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. The 14th-seeded Lady Mavs went to Ames and nearly pulled a massive upset, leading by five at the half and by three with less than six minutes remaining. The 3rd-seeded Cyclones used a late rally to pick up a 78-71 win over Wright's Lady Mavs – who would have become the first 14 seed to ever win a game in the tournament – on Mar. 17.

For her efforts, former UTA Athletic Director Jim Baker announced the two-year extension for Wright with UTA through the 2027 season.

In her rookie campaign as a head coach, Wright led the Lady Mavs through an interesting season that saw multiple stoppages due to COVID, COVID opt-outs, injuries and games postponed/canceled. Wright and the Lady Mavericks finished the season with a 13-7 overall record and 11-4 record in Sun Belt Conference play.

Wright secured her first career win in the 2020-21 season opener against Texas A&M-Commerce at College Park Center on Nov. 25. UTA went on to earn the West Division’s No. 2 seed in the SBC Tourney, falling to App State in Quarterfinals.

Despite the challenges that were thrown their way in 2020-21, Wright and the Lady Mavs led the Sun Belt in scoring defense (54.0 ppg), field goal percentage defense (34.8%) and three-point percentage defense (26.7%) and ranked top-3 in scoring margin (2nd; +7.0), three-point percentage (3rd; 32.3%), assists (2nd; 14.9 apg) and assist/turnover ratio (2nd; 0.9).

In the national rankings, the 2020-21 edition of the Lady Mavs ranked in the Top-50 nationally in multiple categories, including scoring defense (10th), field-goal percentage (12th) and three-point percentage defense (20th).

Wright – a Texas High School Hall of Fame member and former longtime assistant coach at Texas Tech – brings her impressive resume to the Lady Mavericks after spending two seasons (2018-20) with Vanderbilt, five years at Alabama (2013-18) and seven campaigns in Lubbock (2006-13).

A native of Copperas Cove just west of Fort Hood, Wright was the 2000 National Player of the Year her senior season at Copperas Cove High School after averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Known nationally as a strong recruiter, Wright – who served as Vanderbilt’s recruiting coordinator – helped bring a pair of ESPNW top 100 players to the Commodores’ Class of 2019, including Koi Love, who became the first player in school history to earn back-to-back SEC Freshman of the Week honors.

Prior to Vandy, Wright was a critical part of Alabama’s resurgence and helped the Crimson Tide to consecutive 20-win seasons, which included the quarterfinals of the 2018 WNIT. Under Wright’s tutelage, Alabama forward Ashley Williams finished her career ranked 9th in school history in scoring (1,450) and 5th in rebounding (859).

Additionally, under Wright’s direction, SEC All-Freshman selection Ashley Knight set the Alabama single-season record and led the league in blocks with 90, becoming the first player in program history to finish as the SEC’s leader in blocks.

Wright also was instrumental in constructing a signing class that ranked in the top 25 nationally, featuring both the Alabama and Mississippi high school players of the year.

Wright began her coaching career at Texas Tech and was responsible for the perimeter players, recruiting, scouting, academics and equipment. She helped the Lady Raiders advance to the postseason five times, and posted 20+ win seasons each of the last three years – including advancing to the NCAA Tournament twice.

Wright was selected as the 13th overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Detroit Shock after a stellar career at Purdue. She was traded to the Phoenix Mercury on draft night, and spent two seasons with them until an injury brought her professional playing career to an end in 2006.

A prolific player, Wright remains to this day the only three-time All-American in Purdue women’s basketball history. She was just the third Boilermaker in program history to be named All-Big Ten First Team on three occasions, and was a finalist for National Player of the Year as both a junior and senior. As a freshman in 2001, Wright was named to the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team.

Wright amassed 2,251 points (2nd in Purdue history) and 793 rebounds (7th) over the course of her career, to go with 177 blocked shots (10th), 291 assists (17th) and 129 steals. Her 350 offensive rebounds are the most in school history. Wright made and attempted more free throws than any player in Big Ten history, going 776 for 1,071 from the line.

Throughout her four-year career, Purdue appeared in four NCAA tournaments, advancing to the National Championship Final in 2001, the Elite Eight in 2003 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2004. Purdue won two Big Ten regular-season titles (2001, 2002) and a pair of Big Ten Tournament crowns (2003, 2004) with Wright being named Most Outstanding Player both times.

Wright, who graduated from Purdue in 2004 with a degree in health and fitness, was inducted into the Purdue Athletics Hall of Fame earlier this year.

As a high school player, Wright set Copperas Cove records with 3,269 points, 1,148 rebounds and 220 blocks. At the time of her graduation, she was just the 36th player in the country and only the 4th Texan to record 3,000 points in a high school career.

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Shereka Wright

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