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UK women’s assistant Jeff House leaves program because “it wasn’t right fit”


Two Kentucky women’s basketball assistant coaches will be looking for new employment after they parted ways with the program this week.

Jeff House, who just completed his first season on the Wildcats’ bench, and Shalon Pillow, who has been an assistant with the program since 2009, will no longer be on head coach Matthew Mitchell’s staff.

House said that his parting was mutual. He met with Mitchell on Wednesday, and said that he knew the meeting would end in the two parting ways.

“I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me,” House said. “I didn’t know that would be the case from his standpoint. We had not connected as well as we had hoped for.”

According to House, his “analytical style” clashed with Mitchell’s way of doing things.

“If I gave him (Mitchell) analytical information about an official or something, that’s not what he wanted,” House said. “He wanted somebody to tell him how great it was, how great of a day it was going to be and ‘we’re going to have a great game’ instead of an experienced coach who would provide insight and analysis. Neither one of those methods is right or wrong. It just didn’t fit.”

Although House said he was already not intending to return to the Kentucky bench next season, he harbors no ill will towards the program and maintained that the pairing just wasn’t right.

Currently in Nashville at the annual Women’s Basketball Coaches Association meetings, House had already called everyone on the team and reminded them that the relationships they had built were “really just a starting point” and that his phone number would remain the same if they ever needed him for anything.

“I love Kentucky and I think Kentucky’s an unbelievable place,” he said. “Mitch Barnhart is the best athletic director I’ve seen. … I think the world of Matthew and his family and the things going on at Kentucky. Just personally and professionally, it wasn’t the right fit.”

According to UK Hoops spokesperson Susan Lax, Mitchell had no comment about the staffing changes, but Lax said that he was “looking to replace ASAP” and will probably name replacements within the month.

According to the university’s jobs site, the deadline to apply for either assistant position is next Friday, April 11.

House’s contract, which began on July 1 of last year, was a one-year deal that was set to expire on June 30 of this year. House’s deal was worth $185,000.

Pillow’s most recent contract, which was signed in July of 2012, was also set to expire on June 30 of this year. Pillow made $140,000 during the first year (July 2012-June 2013) of the contract, and was set to make $155,000 in the second year (July 2013-June 2014).

House had previously worked for several women’s basketball programs in the college ranks and in the WNBA, including most recently (before Kentucky) the Chicago Sky.

Pillow worked primarily with Kentucky’s post players, including Victoria Dunlap, who became the program’s first Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 2010.

Before her coaching career, Pillow played for four years at Tennessee under now-retired head coach Pat Summitt.

Both House and Pillow part from the program just a week after Kentucky lost in the Sweet 16 to Baylor, 90-72.

Mitchell expressed his desire at the beginning of the season for Kentucky to earn a No. 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, but after starting SEC play at 5-5, that was no longer possible.

The Wildcats lost in the SEC Tournament title game by one point to Tennessee, then went on to the NCAA Tournament where they blew out Wright State, squeaked by Syracuse and lost to Baylor.

Four players from this year’s team, including three starters (Samarie Walker, DeNesha Stallworth and Kastine Evans) will graduate.

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  1. Mike

    Two changes in one week seems like a little pause for some concern. Seems like Mitchell wants to surround himself with “yes” people and maybe is reluctant to assume personal responsibility for delivering lower expectations for this year.

  2. Ben

    Mike, that seems like a unfair comment given Mitchell’s record so far! Some times people just do not fit well together.

    1. Juan4UK

      I agree Ben, the team has been rolling until hitting a wall this year In Mitchell I trust.

  3. Weareuk

    Mitchell has been harder on himself then any Coach I’ve ever seen since they lost in the Sweet16. Look around and you will see articles of how hard he’s been on himself. He has taken this program to heights that were never dreamed of. We are a spoiled fanbase, I hope he stays at UK for many moons.

  4. KMan24

    Very unusual to lose 2/3 of your assistants. Seems like chemistry problems among/between coaches and players. That is Mitchell’s responsibility. Missing on his hires is also on him.

    1. Karen Sprinkle

      I agree that it is ultimately Coach Mitchell’s responsibility for his assistant coaches, but I don’t agree that you can call Shalon Pillow a “miss on his hire” since she has been an assistant since 2009, a period in which Kentucky has had great success.

  5. Mike

    Ben…You might be right but you generally work the chemistry problems out before the hire.

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