Jolette Law served five years as head coach of Illinois' women's basketball program, from the 2007-08 season until the 2011-12 season. Law compiled a record of 69-93 in those five years.
Law, long regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the country, was named the seventh head women's basketball coach at the University of Illinois on May 11, 2007. Law led Illinois to two postseason appearances while turning heads on the recruiting trail both in the state of Illinois and nationally.
Law came to Illinois following 12 years as an assistant on C. Vivian Stringer's Rutgers staff, including her last four as associate head coach. Known as a dynamic recruiter during her time with the Scarlet Knights, Law wasted no time establishing herself as a top recruiter at Illinois.
In November of 2008, she inked the No. 3 recruiting class in the country, the top-rated signing class in school history. The loaded class featured several players that form the nucleus of this year's team, including Karisma Penn (No. 16 by HoopGurlz), Adrienne Goldbold (No. 36 by HoopGurlz), Amber Moore (No. 109 by Blue Star) and Kersten Magrum (No. 149 Blue Star). Law followed up the historic 2009 signing class by inking two more top-100 recruits in the 2010 class in Alexis Burke (No. 50 Hoopgurls) and Centrese McGee (No. 86 Blue Star); and one more in 2011 Ivory Crawford (No. 88 Blue Star).
On the court, Law has led Illinois to 69 wins in five seasons, including two trips to the postseason WNIT. During her first season with the Illini in 2007-08, Law guided the Illini to 20 victories, marking Illinois' first 20-win season since 1999-2000. The Orange and Blue made an historic run in the 2008 Big Ten Tournament, advancing to the championship game but falling just short of an NCAA Tournament bid in losing to Purdue on a buzzer-beater. The Illini earned a 2008 WNIT bid and advanced to the third round. The Orange and Blue repeated that magic with a pair of upsets en route to Big Ten Tournament semifinals that year.
In 2008-09, Law had a young Illini squad playing its best basketball at the end of the season, as the team finished 6-5 in the final 11 games. That momentum carried over into 2009-10, when the Illini started 7-1 out of the gates and finished the season with 19 wins and a trip to the WNIT quarterfinals. The Orange and Blue finished strong down the stretch in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. During Law's fourth season at the helm of the program, the Illini reached the Big Ten semifinals again, downing No. 7-seed Wisconsin and No. 3-seed Michigan to do so in 2011. Illinois followed up with five wins in the final half of the 2011-12 conference season, including a victory over No. 10 Ohio State, 66-65, at Assembly Hall.
In addition to the team progress, Law helped develop Jenna Smith into one of the premier post players in the country. A 2010 Illinois graduate, Smith became the highest WNBA draft pick in school history when she was taken with the 14th overall pick by the Washington Mystics in the 2010 WNBA Draft. Smith finished her UI career as possibly the greatest player in school history, earning earned honorable mention All-America accolades in 2008 and first team All-Big Ten honors in 2008, '09 and '10. Smith left Illinois as Illinois' all-time leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, thanks in large part to Law's tutelage. Law also has helped players like Lacey Simpson, Rebecca Harris and Audrey Tabon realize their potential during her tenure. Simpson and Harris both currently play professionally overseas, while Tabon played professionally in Europe after her graduation in 2008 as well.
Upon her arrival in the summer of 2007, Law wasted little time making a name for herself in the community, appearing at countless events and charity functions, and on the recruiting trail as she and her tireless staff hit the road to sell top prospects across the country on the University of Illinois. That diligence paid off not only with the 2009 class, but also with Law's first recruiting class of Macie Blinn, Fabiola Josil, Eboni Mitchell, Lana Rukavina and Whitney Toone, as all have made major impacts on the court and in the classroom.
Before arriving at Illinois, Law made a name for herself as a driving force behind Rutgers' rise to the top of women's college basketball. During her tenure, the Scarlet Knights saw remarkable success, including two Final Fours, three Elite Eights and three Sweet Sixteen appearances, among them the 2007 national championship game in Cleveland.
Rutgers compiled a record of 257-125 (.673) during Law's tenure in East Brunswick, N.J., winning Big East regular season titles in both 2005 and 2006 and the Big East Tournament title in 2007. The Scarlet Knights featured 22 All-Big East honorees, three Big East Defensive Players of the Year and three Big East Rookies of the Year. They also produced seven All-America selections and had eight players drafted in the WNBA during that span.
In addition to her tremendous technical expertise on the sidelines, Law also used her energetic and enthusiastic personality to help Rutgers bring in eight recruiting classes ranked among the nation's top 10 during her tenure, including three classes that were ranked No. 1 in the nation (1999, 2001 and 2006). Players such as Shawnetta Stewart, Usha Gilmore, Tasha Pointer, Tammy Sutton-Brown, Davalyn Cunningham, Rebecca Richman, Chelsea Newton, Cappie Pondexter, Essence Carson and Matee Ajavon, all of whom were drafted by the WNBA, benefited from Law's instruction and motivation on the court.
Law was a three-time Kodak All-American at Wilson High School before graduating from the University of Iowa in 1990 with a degree in sports studies/corporate fitness. As the Hawkeyes' floor general, she helped Stringer lead the Hawkeyes to four consecutive Big Ten titles and a record of 105-18 from 1987-90. A Kodak District V All-American in 1990, she was a four-year letterwinner at Iowa and a two-time first-team All-Big Ten Conference selection (1989 and 1990). A member of the Iowa Hall of Fame, she still ranked sixth on the Hawkeye career steals list (205) as well as eighth in assists (353) and 20th in scoring (1,137) prior to the 2009-10 season. She also was a member of the 1988 Jones Cup Team.
Following her collegiate career, Law joined the Harlem Globetrotters from 1990-94 as the only female team member, completing three worldwide tours with the team. As an ambassador of goodwill with the Globetrotters, she coordinated several basketball seminars and clinics in addition to her on-court performances. During her stint with basketball's greatest team, her picture appeared on Wheaties cereal boxes with her Globetrotter teammates.
After her playing career came to a close, Law spent one season at Ball State (1994-95) before joining Stringer at Rutgers.
Law has utilized her skills and talents to create opportunities to participate in various national projects, including the "Great American Workout" with former president George H.W. Bush, the 1992 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Project D.A.R.E. in St. Petersburg, Fla. Law also has made appearances on ABC's Wide World of Sports, the Montel Williams Show and the Vicki Lawrence Show. She has been featured in several magazines, including Sport Magazine, Black Elegance, Ebony, Jet and People.
Law has made a big impact on her hometown of Florence, S.C. Jolette Law Day was celebrated on Dec. 22, 1990, when she was presented the key to the city. Then in September of 2008, Law was honored the Florence School District One Distinguished Graduate.
THE LAW FILE
University of Iowa, 1987-90
Wilson High School, 1983-86
Law's Career Coaching Record
Year Record Pct. Big Ten Postseason 2007-08 20-15 .571 8-10 (9th) WNIT Third Round 2008-09 10-21 .323 5-13 (9th) - 2009-10 19-15 .559 7-11 (T-8th) WNIT Quarterfinals 2010-11 9-23 .290 2-14 (11th) - 2011-12 11-19 .367 5-11 (10th) - Five Years 69-93 .426 27-59 (.314) -
Associate Head Coach
Year Record Pct. Big East Postseason 2003-04 21-12 .636 10-6 (T-6th) NCAA First Round 2004-05 28-7 .800 14-2 (1st) NCAA Regional Final 2005-06 27-5 .844 16-0 (1st) NCAA Regional Semifinal 2006-07 27-9 .750 12-4 (T-2nd) NCAA Final Four
Year Record Pct. Big East Postseason 1995-96 13-15 .464 8-10 (5th*) - 1996-97 11-17 .393 8-10 (T-2nd*) - 1997-98 22-10 .688 14-4 (1st*) NCAA Regional Semifinal 1998-99 29-6 .829 17-1 (T-1st) NCAA Regional Final 1999-2000 26-8 .765 12-4 (T-3rd) NCAA Final Four 2000-01 23-8 .742 13-3 (3rd) NCAA Second Round 2001-02 9-20 .310 5-11 (11th) - 2002-03 21-8 .724 13-3 (2nd) NCAA Second Round * Big East 7 Division
Ball State University (1994-95), Head Coach Robyn Markey
Year Record Pct. Conf. Postseason 1994-95 7-18 .280 3-15 -
updated March, 2012