Two-time Olympian and WNBA Most Valuable Player Yolanda Griffith has joined the women’s basketball team as an assistant coach on the staff of head coach Sharon Dawley.
“I’m so honored to get this opportunity in my career at one of the highest levels,” Griffith said. “I’m looking forward to learning from Coach Dawley and the other members of the UMass women’s basketball coaching staff. When the support is behind athletics it helps with making your decision much easier.”
Most recently, Griffith served as the top assistant coach at Lafayette College during the 2013-14 season. At Lafayette, Griffith mentored the Leopards’ post players, including all-Patriot League honoree and 1,000-point scorer Emily Homan, and was the team’s compliance liaison and schedule coordinator in addition to her duties as a coach.
“Yolanda Griffith is one of the best to ever play this game,” Dawley said. “Simply put, she can play, but more importantly, she knows how to coach. She understands the game of basketball and how to teach it. She has that innate ability to connect with players and we love the positive energy she brings to the court each day.”
Prior to Lafayette, Griffith was an assistant coach at Dartmouth College from 2011-13, where she worked alongside current UMass assistant and then-Big Green head coach Chris Wielgus. Griffith also has experience coaching within the WNBA as she served as an assistant on the Indiana Fever staff in 2009.
Griffith is one of the most lauded players in WNBA history for a career than spanned 11 seasons. She was named a league all-star on eight occasions and earned WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and MVP in 1999. Griffith also earned a spot on the WNBA All-Decade Team and was chosen as the MVP of the 2005 finals when she guided Sacramento to the WNBA championship behind 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest over the eight-game postseason.
Griffith, a first-ballot inductee into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014, also competed for the United States National Women’s Basketball Team from 1999 to 2004 when she earned a pair of gold medals. Griffith helped Team USA take home gold at the 2000 Olympic Games held in Sydney, Australia, before the squad repeated as champions four years later in Athens, Greece.
A native of Chicago, Griffith also traveled the globe playing as she competed for Euroleague Basketball professional teams in Germany (1993-97), Italy (2000-02) and Russia (2003-06). In addition, Griffith spent seasons in the Women’s Korean Basketball League (2007-08) and Women’s Chinese Basketball Association (2008-09).
Griffith began her collegiate career at Palm Beach Junior College, where she earned all-America honors during the 1990-91 season. She transferred to Florida Atlantic University and earned Kodak Division II Player of the Year honors in 1992-93 before she started her professional career.
Griffith has also contributed to the game of basketball away from the court as a member of the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee, where she currently serves as an athlete representative. Previously, Griffith also held an advisory role for ESPNW, where she assisted ESPN’s goal to further the network’s outreach to female athletes.