The Minnesota Lynx have rounded out their assistant coaching staff ahead of the 2019 WNBA campaign.
Minnesota head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve and the organization announced Thursday that it has hired former three-time WNBA champion and former Lynx player Plenette Pierson as an assistant coach, as well as promoted current assistant coach Walt Hopkins to a full-time assistant coaching role alongside Shelley Patterson.
“Walt was a great addition to our team two years ago. I appreciate the tremendous work he has done with our players during that time and look forward to his expanded role with our team,” Reeve said in the statement issued by the organization. “Plenette has a bright future as a coach and I’m really excited to have her back with the Lynx. As a player, Plenette demonstrated a strong understanding of the game and the ability to connect with players.”
The moves and adjustments to the coaching staff come after assistant coach James Wade left the coaching staff to become the general manager and head coach of the Chicago Sky during the offseason.
The promotion of Hopkins, who has built a lot of strong relationships with the players and coaches within the organization in his time in Minnesota thus far, was one that many expected would happen with the departure of Wade.
Hopkins, who will enter his third season in Minnesota in 2019, has worked in the WNBA since the 2013 season as a Player Development Coach for the Tulsa Shock. He was also an assistant coach for the Utah Valley women’s basketball program prior to joining the Lynx.
The addition of Pierson, who retired following the 2017 season with the Lynx, is a bit more surprising but understandable at the same time. Even with her contributions on the floor for Minnesota, she had a large impact in the locker room and became a fan favorite during her season with the Lynx and will have no issues connecting with players in her return to the team as an assistant coach.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be returning to the Minnesota Lynx organization, this time in a coaching capacity,” Pierson said in the statement. “Leaving the WNBA in 2017 in championship fashion with this franchise, I knew someday I’d be back with Coach Reeve and I’m ready to give back to the game that gave so much to me.”
Pierson spent 15 years in the WNBA before retiring as a member of the Lynx following the 2017 championship. For the past year, she has spent time as an assistant coach for the Wayne State women’s basketball program before joining Reeve and company back on the Lynx.
At Wayne State, Pierson spent time working primarily with post players development, prepared opponent scouting reports and spent time recruited future players. According to the team, Pierson will assist in the Lynx talent evaluation, scouting and assist in the team’s player development in her new role. She also becomes the 12th former WNBA player to currently be on a coaching staff in the league.
Minnesota and its somewhat new-look coaching staff will face a familiar face — that being former assistant coach Wade and the Chicago Sky — to open up the 2019 season at home at 7 p.m. on May 25 at Target Center.