Updated Tue, Oct 11, 2011 4:12 pm
As Ohio University Women’s Basketball Coach Semeka Randall enters her fourth year at the helm of Bobcats basketball, she has already been recognized for more than just the Green and White’s past success. As a standout guard for the University of Tennessee between 1997 and 2001, Randall set records and gained national attention, landing her in the Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame in 2011.
Randall’s basketball career stretches over a decade, beginning in high school and continuing into the WNBA. She was Parade Magazine’s Player of the Year and first-team All-American while still playing in high school. The current Bobcats coach also started 55 of her total 123 WNBA games, averaging 5.8 points per contest.
Before Randall was setting records at UT, she was already making waves in the basketball community. In addition to being named Player of the Year and All-American while starring at Trinity High School in Garfield Heights, Ohio, she was Ohio's Miss Basketball in 1996 and 1997, a member of the 1996 and 1997 USA Junior World Championship Qualifying Teams, the MVP of the Ohio State Basketball Tournament in 1994 and 1996 and the Gatorade Circle of Champions Midwest Player of the Year in 1997.
“It was special,” says Randall. “It was a unique environment, I was blessed and fortunate to be a part of that.”
In 1997, Randall joined the Tennessee Lady Vols with an impressive start. In her first season, she had 102 steals, which broke the freshman record. She continued to play as a regular starter on the 1997-98 team that went an undefeated 39-0 en route to an NCAA championship. Randall was named a two-time Kodak All-American, a four-time SEC Champion and was also named to the All-SEC squad during three of her four years on the University of Tennessee basketball team.
In her career at Tennessee, Randall recorded more than 1,900 points. ESPN recognized her for her athletic accomplishments, awarding her an ESPY Award as a member of the 1990's Co-Team of the Decade.
After graduating college a semester early with a Bachelor’s degree in speech communications, Randall was the first player chosen in the second round (17th overall) of the 2001 WNBA draft by the Seattle Storm. She started 30 of 32 games as a rookie, averaging a career-best 9.4 points. She averaged 5.8 points during her 123-game WNBA career, including 55 starts. In 2004, she completed her four-year WNBA career which included stops in Seattle (2001-02), Utah (2002) and San Antonio (2003-04).
“We stepped on the floor and made things happen,” says Randall.
Fourteen years after she began playing for the Lady Vols, Randall may have changed colors from orange to green, but she maintained her success. Since Randall became the Bobcats head coach in 2008, the team has seen improvement in almost every aspect. Ohio has become one of the top defensive squads in the Mid-American Conference as well as notched its second win in three seasons in the first round of the MAC tournament. The team’s free-throw skills have also seen progression. The Bobcats got to the charity stripe 587 times during the season and hit 401 attempts, both program-best marks in Randall's three seasons in Athens.
The Ohio Bobcats, along with their head coach, will begin the 2011-2012 basketball season with an exhibition against Ohio Valley on November 1st in the Convocation Center.