Karen Middleton spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Fighting Illini from 2007-09. Hired on June 14, 2007, Middleton played a big role in recruiting, scouting, academic progress, compliance and developing the Fighting Illini guards, as well many other day-to-day duties. She resigned in May of 2009 to become the head coach at Western Carolina University.
Middleton helped coach the Illini to 20 wins in 2007-08. The Illinois guards had a successful season with the assistance of Middleton, as Lori Bjork earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors and Rebecca Harris had a strong second half of the season that was capped by being selected to the Big Ten All-Tournament team. Additionally, Chelsea Gordon continued to develop as one of the top perimeter defenders in the conference. She also had a big hand in landing the talented recruiting class of Macie Blinn, Fabiola Josil, Eboni Mitchell, Lana Rukavina and Whitney Toone that took the floor for the Illini in 2008-09.
In addition to leading the Orange and Blue to on-the-court success, Middleton also helped head coach Jolette Law and staff sign the No. 3 recruiting class in the country, according to ESPN HoopGurlz, during the fall of 2008. The class, which will join the Illini next season, consists of six players, including McDonald's All-American Destiny Williams, Adrienne Godbold, Brianna Jones, Kersten Magrum, Amber Moore and Karisma Penn.
Prior to coming to Illinois, Middleton spent 10 years as an assistant coach at Stanford University, where she handled off-campus recruiting and scouting for head coach Tara VanDerveer. She also played a role in player development, working mainly with the perimeter players.
While at Stanford, she helped the Cardinal to eight Pac-10 conference titles and 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including four Sweet Sixteens and three Elite Eights. She also coached three Kodak All-Americans (Candice Wiggins, Nicole Powell and Kristin Folkl), two Pac-10 Players of the Year (Wiggins and Powell), and 11 players that went on to play in the WNBA.
Before her stint at Stanford, Middleton served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Eastern Washington University (1994-97) and as an assistant coach the University of South Carolina (1992-94).
Middleton attended and played at the University of South Carolina, where she was a four-year letterwinner from 1988-1991. She was a team captain, team MVP and a two-time All-Metro Conference selection during her career and finished as the fifth-leading scorer in school history with 1,714 points. Middleton is in the books as the best shooter in school history as she still holds school records for career 3FG made (317), career 3FG percentage (44.5), season 3FG made (115) and season 3FG percentage (46.9). Her 115 threes made in 1991 ranks as the sixth-most in NCAA history. In addition to playing in four NCAA Tournaments, which included a Sweet 16 appearance, Middleton was a two-time GTE Academic All-District selection at South Carolina and participated in the 1989 USA Basketball Olympic Festival in Oklahoma City.
Middleton graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from South Carolina in 1991. She also earned an Interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Physical Education from South Carolina in 1993. Middleton, who was born in Monroe, N.C., graduated from McBee High School in McBee, S.C., where she scored over 2,000 points, was the state's player of the year twice (1986 and '87) and had her jersey (#20) retired.
THE MIDDLETON FILE
Hometown: Jefferson, N.C.
updated May 2009