Former WNBA All-Star Nicole Powell named UCR women’s basketball head coach

On Monday, March 30, the UC Riverside women’s basketball team announced Nicole Powell as the new head coach for the women’s basketball team. Powell was most recently the head coach at Grand Canyon University (GCU) for three seasons from 2017-2020. During her tenure at GCU, the Lopes finished with 16, 7 and 11 wins for an overall record of 34-42 in the three seasons Powell was the head coach. 

Powell will be replacing Seyram Bell, who was the interim head coach for the 2019-20 season, after Bell took the position following the resignation of John Margaritas in the summer of 2019. 

As a student-athlete, Powell played her collegiate career at Stanford University from 2000 to 2004. During her tenure, Powell was named as an All-American three times and broke multiple school records, including being the first woman to record multiple triple-doubles. 

In an interview with The Highlander, Powell talked about how her experiences as a student-athlete herself could add to her transition of becoming the next UCR women’s basketball head coach. 

Powell said, “Just being able to understand what it means to be a student-athlete at a very strong academic school and what it takes to be able to balance your studies. I remember what it’s like during finals week or planning for a test and we ask so much of student-athletes today.” 

Following her collegiate career at Stanford, Powell was drafted third overall by the Charlotte Sting. She played for multiple WNBA teams, including the now defunct Sacramento Monarchs, New York Liberty, Tulsa Shock and Seattle Storm before retiring in 2014. Her career highlights include winning the WNBA championship in 2005 and being named a WNBA All-Star in 2009.

“We all bought into the mission of what we were trying to accomplish and were willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. It was a terrific experience that I will never forget,” Powell stated about her experience winning a championship in the WNBA. 

For the upcoming 2020-21 season, Powell wants to set the tone both on and off the court and that starts with putting academics first. She will draw from her experiences as an athlete, both collegiate and professional, as well as her experiences as an assistant coach and her tenure at GCU.  

“The mindset that I want to bring is really high standards in everything that we do and that started with school. Academics is always your first priority and I’ve always followed that with my parents. The other thing that I want is a great sense of accountability and doing things the right way. Also, having that team mentality and being able to give your absolute best,” Powell stated.