- Associated Press - Thursday, July 23, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale will headline the 2016 women’s basketball Hall of Fame induction class, a person familiar with the situation said Thursday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made.

She will be joined by former Missouri State guard Jackie Stiles, Olympic gold medalist Natalie Williams, longtime official June Courteau, Texas girls high school coach Joe Lombard and the late AAU girls basketball official Bill Tipps. The 1996 U.S. women’s basketball Olympic team will receive the Hall’s trailblazer award.

The group will be inducted next June at the Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Coale has led Oklahoma to three Final Fours since taking over the program in 1996, and the Sooners have made the NCAA Tournament in 16 straight years.

“I think when you think about how she took a job that’s not an easy job, in her hometown, and then played in three Final Fours and a championship game and built a program that’s as good as anyone else in the country, that’s something,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Her being an ambassador for the sport that she is and being a great teacher, she represents everything that’s good in our sport. Those are the people we should be celebrating. I’m thrilled for her.”

Stiles finished her career at Missouri State with 3,393 points, the most in NCAA history. She led her team to the Final Four in 2001, the last time a mid-major school reached the women’s national semifinals.

Williams starred at UCLA in basketball and volleyball. She helped the Bruins win national volleyball titles in 1990 and 1991. Williams played in the ABL for the Portland Power before it folded. She was the league’s MVP in 1998 and grabbed a league-record 22 rebounds in a game that season. She had a brief career in the WNBA playing for her hometown Utah Starzz and was a member of the 2000 gold-medal winning Olympic team.

Courteau was a women’s basketball official from 1968 to 2011 and participated in 12 Final Fours and five national championship games. She also officiated in the WNBA from 1997-2011. Courteau is now the NCAA coordinator of officials.

Lombard has won more than 1,200 games - winning a thousand before his 100th defeat. He was honored last year with the Morgan Wootten Award for lifetime achievement in coaching high school from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Tipps was a chairman of AAU girls basketball for many years as well as a member of the nominating committee for the women’s basketball Hall of Fame. He was also on the Olympic selection committee. Tipps died in 2011.


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