June 14, 2013
NASHVILLE - Who says you can't go home?
That's the message Vanderbilt Head Women's Basketball Coach Melanie Balcomb had for the newest member of her coaching staff, Ashley Earley. The 2005 Vanderbilt graduate will join Balcomb's staff and lead the effort with post players, while also contributing significantly to recruiting.
Earley comes back to Nashville having spent last season as an assistant coach at the University of Virginia.
"Ashley will replace former post coach Vicky Picott and join Associate Head Coach Tom Garrick and Recruiting Coordinator Kim Rosamond on staff," said Balcomb, while also expressing her excitement about Earley returning to West End.
"I loved coaching Ashley, and I am thrilled to be able to bring her back to the Vanderbilt family," Balcomb said. "Ashley was a fearless competitor as a player, but it was her mental toughness and coachability that set her apart. While she was here, much of our success was attributed to her outstanding leadership skills. I'm excited to watch Ashley pass on her positive energy and attention to detail as a post coach and recruiter of young talent."
Earley is just as excited to again be a Commodore.
"Blessed is the first word that comes to mind," she said. "As a former player I am ecstatic and humbled to return home to Vanderbilt in a coaching capacity. During my four years, I developed both as a person and a player. Coach Balcomb and Vanderbilt were invaluable to that process. I look forward to helping our young women see the same success."
Balcomb knows Earley is the perfect person to carry on the tradition of success in the post that Picott has fostered.
"Vicky came to Vanderbilt with me 11 years ago," said Balcomb. "We will all miss her passion and dedication to developing excellence in post play. I am very appreciative of her long-term commitment to our student-athletes and establishing such a strong foundation for the program. I am confident Ashley will continue to build on that tradition."
Earley will help the Commodores continue a sustained level of success that has seen the program reach each of the last 14 NCAA Tournaments. She was a part of that success as a player from 2001-05, helping her teams to the Elite Eight in 2002, the Sweet 16 in 2004 and 2005 and SEC Tournament Championships in 2002 and 2004.
As a senior, she was a unanimous first-team All-SEC selection, Kodak All-Region, Associated Press honorable mention All-American and Full Court Press second-team All-American. She paced the Southeastern Conference in field goal percentage and offensive rebounds and was a candidate for both the Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award. She capped her career with 1,382 points, a total which ranks 18th in program history.
After being drafted by the WNBA's Indiana Fever, Earley played professionally for the Maccabi Tel Kabir in the Safsal Israeli League.
She embarked upon a career in coaching following her playing career, first as a graduate assistant at the University of Alabama. From Tuscaloosa, she went on to spend two seasons as an assistant coach at Tennessee Tech before spending one season on the staff at the University of Rhode Island.
Earley then moved to Marquette in 2010, helping the Golden Eagles to the second round NCAA Tournament and a 24-9 mark. She was in Milwaukee for one more season before moving to Virginia in April 2012.
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Earley was an outstanding prep player who was the 2001 Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year. She was also named High School All-America by Parade, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and USA Today for her senior season at Briarcrest High School.
She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt, while also earning a master's in marketing from the University of Alabama in 2007.
Earley is ready to hit the ground running.
"I'm ready to do everything I possibly can to take Vanderbilt women's basketball to the next level," says Earley. "I'm ready to get to work."