LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky native and former Dayton assistant coach Camryn Whitaker (pictured) has been hired as an assistant coach for the UK women’s basketball team, head coach Matthew Mitchell announced Thursday.
Whitaker, who hails from Cynthiana, Ky., returns to the Bluegrass after three seasons at Dayton, where she helped the Flyers advance to their sixth-straight NCAA Tournament, including the school’s first-ever Elite Eight appearance this year and a 99-94 win over the Wildcats in the second round. Dayton also charted 23 or more wins in each of her three seasons, including two 28-win campaigns. Under Whitaker’s guidance, two of her guards, junior Kelley Austria and freshman Jenna Burdette earned Atlantic 10 honors as Austria was named to the All-Defensive Team and A-10 All-Championship Team and Burdette earned All-Rookie Team honors.
“Camryn will be an outstanding addition to our staff,” Mitchell said. “She is a coach that I’ve known for a long time and I have always been impressed with her energy and the power she has to connect with people. I have greatly admired her ability to develop players. She has been a very successful recruiter and her passion for Kentucky and her desire to make a difference in this program are qualities that I greatly appreciate. I know Camryn will help us be an extremely successful program going forward, and I look forward to working with her.”
Prior to Dayton, Whitaker was an assistant coach for one season at her alma mater, Western Kentucky University, while also stopping at Austin Peay for two years and Missouri State for three seasons to begin her coaching career. At all of her coaching stops, she was primarily responsible for the guards and recruiting.
"I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to coach at the University of Kentucky,” Whitaker said. “To be home is a dream come true for me and I am so grateful to Coach Mitchell and the Kentucky family for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful community. I think Kentucky is the best athletics program in the country, and I look forward to working with such a quality and high-level staff. I truly bleed blue and am excited to join Big Blue Nation. It's a great day to be a Wildcat."
Whitaker, 34, was a standout player at Harrison County High School where she was a second-team all-state and USA Today honorable mention All-America selection after leading the Thorobreds to a 28-4 record and their first-ever trip to the Kentucky Sweet Sixteen State Tournament in 2000. She ranked among the state leaders in scoring (23.2 ppg), assists (7.3 apg), field-goal percentage (.577) and free-throw percentage (.760) and became just the second player in state history to record 2,000 career points and 1,000 career assists (2,574 points and 1,044 assists). Whitaker shot 48 percent from 3-point range as a senior and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 2.6 to 1 (233 assists, 89 turnovers). She still holds the state season record with 283 assists as a sophomore. In the 2000 Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Series, she tallied a record-breaking 14 assists, topping the previous mark set by Stephanie White (McCarty), a former Indiana high school standout and 1998-99 consensus All-American at Purdue.
She went on to earn a scholarship at WKU where she became one the best guards in school history. She set a Sun Belt Conference freshman record for assists (170) in 2000-01 and averaged 3.9 assists to go along with 5.8 points and 1.3 steals per game during her career. Whitaker still stands third all-time in career assists (486), sixth in games started (117), eighth in minutes played per game (29.4) and 10th in steals (170).
Whitaker helped lead WKU to 97 victories and postseason appearances in each of her five seasons, including two NCAA Tournament berths. She left a sizeable imprint on the WKU record book, despite being hampered by a knee injury that forced her to miss the 2002-03 campaign as a medical redshirt.
She received her bachelor’s degree in business marketing from WKU in 2005 and a master’s degree in administrative studies from Missouri State in 2011.
The Whitaker File:
Western Kentucky University, player 2001-2005
Austin Peay University, assistant coach 2006-2008
Missouri State University, assistant coach 2009-2011
Western Kentucky University, assistant coach 2012-2013
University of Dayton, assistant coach 2013-2015
University of Kentucky, assistant coach 2015-present