TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida A&M University’s VP/Director of Athletics, Kortne Gosha, announced on Thursday Shalon Pillow, as Head Coach of the Florida A&M Women’s Basketball program.
“We are excited about the direction of our women’s basketball program under Coach Pillow’s leadership,” Gosha said. “Her natural pedigree as a student-athlete and coaching at the highest level of women’s basketball stood out immediately. We are committed to providing Coach Pillow with the resources and support necessary to develop the championship culture on and off the court that our young women deserve. It is my privilege and honor to welcome Shalon to the Highest of Seven Hills.”
Pillow comes to Tallahassee with over 15 years of successful coaching and skill development experience after serving as an Assistant Women’s Basketball coach at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) under Hall of Fame Coach Rick Insell.
“I’m honored and blessed to be the next head coach at Florida A&M,” Pillow said. “I’ve been preparing for this opportunity my entire life. I look forward to leading this program to success that will stand long after I retire.”
A native of Addyston, Ohio, Pillow played a key role in helping lead MTSU to five straight postseason appearances during her tenure. Pillow is an elite coach of post players and focuses on skill development and fundamentals. Additionally, she understands what it takes to play at a high level and develop talent to its fullest potential.
Most recently during her tenure at MTSU, Pillow aided in developing standout Alex Johnson into one of the most productive post players in program history. Johnson was a three-time All-Conference USA selection and the 2015-16 C-USA Freshman of the Year. Johnson flourished under Pillow’s tutelage and capped her illustrious career among the Top 10 in nine different all-time categories, including scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage.
Pillow was also instrumental in the development of Gabby Lyon, 2016-2017 C-USA Sixth Player of the Year and forward Jordan Majors, who turned in a career year in 2018-19 as she produced five of her six double-figure scoring games and more than doubled her career scoring and rebounding totals. Pillow helped guide the Lady Raiders to 24 wins and the WNIT quarterfinals during her first season in 2014-15 when she worked with Cheyenne Parker, who was the No. 5 overall pick of the WNBA Chicago Sky in April, 2015.
Prior to MTSU, Pillow spent five seasons at the University of Kentucky where the Wildcats posted a 137-39 record during her tenure. The team also made five NCAA tournament appearances, three Elite Eight appearances and was SEC regular-season champions in 2012.
Pillow’s tireless and consistent work ethic blended in perfectly with the UK Hoops staff. She coached and mentored the Wildcat post players, which included forward Victoria Dunlap, UK’s first SEC Player of the Year and first State Farm/WBCA All-American since 1983. The Wildcats won a program-best 28 wins, were second in the SEC and reached the NCAA Elite Eight.
In her second year, Pillow once again helped lead the Cats to an impressive season as UK advanced to its second straight NCAA Tournament and finished ranked in the Top 25 of the AP polls. The Wildcats finished second in the SEC race with a school-record-tying 11 league wins. Dunlap was again named SEC Player of the Year by the AP and she ended her illustrious career ranked No. 2 in career scoring and rebounding.
Pillow came to Kentucky after one season as an assistant coach at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., and three seasons at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa.
Prior to her coaching stints at Hofstra and USF, Pillow was Camp Director and Event Operator for the Ohio Girls Basketball Report (OGBR), where she was responsible for directing the largest 8-10th grade summer camp in the Midwest. She also directed the Top 64 Showcase, and handled pre- and post-camp evaluations.
Pillow, a 6-foot-3 center, was a four-year letterwinner (1998-2002) at Tennessee under legendary coach Pat Summitt. She played in 108 career games and helped the Lady Vols advance to four NCAA Tournaments, including two Final Four appearances and four SEC Championships with a record of 125-12. She graduated from UT in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in general psychology and a minor in communications.
Following graduation, Pillow played for the Tennessee Fury of the National Women’s Basketball League during its inaugural season, and appeared in 20 games. She also served as an assistant coach with the varsity team at Taylor High School in North Bend, Ohio, from 2003-04 and worked the Lady Vols’ summer camps from 1998-2001.
She was a highly-decorated player coming out of Taylor High School, earning Nike and Parade Magazine All-America honors after averaging 22.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.1 blocks and 3.0 steals per game as a senior. She also was tabbed by USA Today as one of the top 20 scholastic players in America and was a finalist for the Naismith High School Player of the Year Award.
What other coaches are saying about Coach Pillow
“I’m very excited for Shalon. She’s very deserving of this opportunity. She knows what it takes to be a head coach. There is no doubt in my mind that she’s going to excel. She has overachieved in every role she has been asked to oversee at Middle Tennessee. Shalon has improved in every facet of the game each of the six years she has been with us, from recruiting to on-floor coaching, workouts, relationships with players and parents, just everything.
“Florida A&M is getting a great coach who will care about her players and work tirelessly to build a successful program. They are also getting an exceptional person.”
Rick Insell, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Middle Tennessee State
“Florida A&M made an excellent decision when they chose Shalon Pillow as their new head coach. Shalon has worked tirelessly over her career to develop into the kind of leader who can guide a program to success both on and off the court. I have had the amazing opportunity to coach Shalon, to work alongside her and to develop a close friendship with her over the past 22 years. Shalon is a person of tremendous integrity, a person who cares deeply for others and she is the best person to lead the Rattlers to success.”
Matthew Mitchell, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, University of Kentucky
“Shalon is a winner and a very hard worker. She knows the game of basketball from the grass roots development of the game up to the collegiate game. She is an excellent choice for a head coaching position. Shalon is a dynamic individual who deals fairly with everyone she encounters. I know she will do a great job for Florida A&M.”
Coach Al Brown, former Assistant Coach, University of Tennessee
Courtesy: FAMU Athletics