The 10th head coach in UW women's hoops history announces recruits Kelsey Plum, Chantel Osahor and Brianna Ruiz are remaining with the Huskies. Kevin Morrison and Adia Barnes are staying on the staff. Assistant Fred Castro will join them from Tulsa.
As prep All-American Kelsey Plum's recommitment to him - plus his renowned writing, hobbies and stature among national coaches - show, new UW women's basketball coach Mike Neighbors is anything but ordinary.
A whirlwind, four-day search to replace Kevin McGuff ends where it began - with the top assistant on McGuff's Staff. The 44-year-old Neighbors gets a five-year contract starting at $350,000 per season as a first-time head coach.
Since taking over last April, Kevin McGuff has made defense one of the hallmarks of his rebuilding project at Washington
Former Cal assistant Kevin Morrison has made an immediate impact during his short time at Washington
Mike Neighbors was promoted to head coach at the University of Washington on April 21, 2013. He had previously worked as the top assistant coach under Kevin McGuff for two seasons with the Huskies.
The 44-year-old Neighbors helped the Huskies to a second-straight 20-win season and a return trip to the WNIT. Washington finished 21-12, including 11-7 in the Pac-12, good for a fifth-place finish.
Neighbors worked with the team's guards, including Jazmine Davis who through two seasons has scored more points than any Husky in school history. Neighbors is also regarded as one of the country's best defensive and player-development specialists.
In his first year at UW, Neigbors assisted the Husky women to a 20-14 season and trip to the quarterfinals of the WNIT. It was the first 20-win season for UW since 2002-03. Neigbors also saw the development of guard Jazmine Davis, who was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year after averaging 15.7 points for the season.
Neighbors' accomplishments in women's basketball speak for themselves. He's helped sign eight McDonald's All-Americans, seen eight of his players drafted in the WNBA, including three who have won WNBA Championships. Everywhere Neighbors has coached, he's overseen the development of either the No. 1 or No. 2 all-time leading scorer in program history. Neighbors is a regular speaker at coaching conventions and clinics around the nation, and his weekly newsletter is popular with coaches at all levels.
Neighbors came to Seattle after four seasons at Xavier, where he worked with current Huskies coach Kevin McGuff. During Neighbors' tenure in Cincinnati, he helped mold a Musketeers program that established itself as one of the best in the nation. Neighbors was named one of basketballscoop.com's "Rising Stars" in 2009, an award that recognizes assistant coaches who are some of the best in the business.
While at Xavier, Neighbors was a part of a coaching staff that produced some of the best seasons in school history. During the 2009-10 season, the Musketeers posted a 30-4 record, including a flawless 14-0 season in Atlantic-10 Conference play. Xavier ended the season ranked No. 5 in the polls. In addition, Xavier advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
In his final year at Xavier, Neighbors and McGuff helped lead the program to a 29-3 record and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament's Second Round. During his tenure at Xavier, Neighbors was part of a staff that compiled a 61-5 non-conference record (108-22 overall), captured three A-10 Tournaments, three A-10 Regular Season Champs, and competed in four straight NCAA Tournaments.
Neighbors is also considered an excellent recruiter, and helped the Musketeers ink the No. 18 rated class of 2010 according to ESPN Hoopgurlz.
As the coach responsible for developing post players, Neighbors was instrumental in the growth of Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips, two of the best players in Musketeer history. Harris, a 6-5 forward, was a two-time State Farm All-America selection and was drafted fourth overall by the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. Meanwhile, Phillips was noted as one of the premier defensive players in the nation. The 6-6 center was the leading rebounder in XU history, in addition to her numerous national accolades.
Neighbors came to XU from the University of Arkansas, where he was an assistant coach for a season, his second stint in Fayetteville. Prior to returning to his alma mater, Neighbors was an assistant coach at the University of Colorado and the University of Tulsa, both under Kathy McConnell-Miller. In Boulder, Neighbors helped develop the school's all-time leading scorer in Brittany Spears, a 2011 WNBA draft selection. At Tulsa, Neighbors was an assistant on the up-and-coming Hurricane's program that enjoyed back-to-back postseason appearances.
A native of Greenwood, Ark., Neighbors received his bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas in 1993. Following his graduation, Neighbors was a director of basketball operations for the women's basketball program, serving under legendary coach Gary Blair, who won the NCAA Championship in 2011 with Texas A&M. Before moving into the collegiate ranks, Neighbors was a highly successful head coach in the Arkansas girls' high school ranks. His most notable achievement was taking a 1-24 Bentonville team to the State Championships two years later.
Neighbors has two children, one daughter Abby (16) and a son Alec (10). He lives in Seattle.