Lady Tiger basketball great LaTonya Johnson will again become a familiar face on the Elma Roane Fieldhouse floor, joining head coach Blair Savage's staff as an Assistant Director of Basketball Operations, beginning with the 2007-08 season.
Johnson was a four-year letterwinner at Memphis from 1994-1998, finishing her Lady Tiger career ranked third in points (2,232) and sixth in rebounds (686) over 118 career games played. Also potent from three-point range, Johnson knocked down a school-record 207 threes, including a record seven treys in a 1997 game against UNC Charlotte.
" Having LaTonya be a part of our coaching staff is a great opportunity. First of all, it enables her to come back and finish her degree and secondly, she provides WNBA experience and the knowledge of what it takes to get to that level for our current team," Head Coach Blair Savage-Lansden said. "It's a great thing for our program to not just bring back a former Lady Tiger, but to bring back someone the caliber of person that LaTonya is and someone who is the caliber of player she is. It just makes for a win-win situation for everybody."
Following her collegiate playing career, Johnson became Memphis' first-ever WNBA draftee when she was drafted by the Utah Starzz in the third round of the 1998 draft. The five-year stop in Utah was the beginning of a seven-year career in the WNBA for Johnson, who also played as a member of the San Antonio Starzz when the team moved from Utah. Johnson also played as a member of the Houston roster in 2004, playing in a total of 173 career WNBA games between 1998 and 2004. As a shooting guard/small forward, Johnson averaged 3.9 points and 1.3 rebounds per game in the WNBA, including a career-best 6.5 points per game during the 1999 season. In 2002, Johnson was one of the WNBA players selected to travel to Colorado Springs to aid the U.S. National Team in preparations for the Summer Olympics. Her association with USA Basketball dates back to her 1995 spot as a member of the U.S. Olympic Festival South Team while she was a college freshman.
A native of Winchester, Tenn., Johnson has continued to play basketball, spending part of the 2003 and 2004 seasons with the Chicago Blaze of the NWBL and playing overseas in Israel.
Johnson is one of just two Lady Tigers to appear in an NCAA Tournament game in all four years of her collegiate playing career. Former teammate Dwelia Smith is the only other Lady Tiger to appear in NCAA tournaments in all four seasons, also appearing in tournament games in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998. Johnson's 1998 team was the last Lady Tiger team to advance to the NCAA tournament, finishing with a 22-8 record. In total, the Lady Tigers never won fewer than 20 games with Johnson in uniform, posting three 22-win seasons and compiling an 86-34 overall record over four seasons.
The Conference USA Tournament MVP as a senior in 1998, Johnson was a Conference USA First Team member in 1996 and 1998 and a second team honoree in 1997. She was the C-USA Player of the Week three times in her three years in the league, and was named the Great Midwest Conference Newcomer of the Year in 1995. The then-freshman was also named first team all-Great Midwest Conference and was a Basketball Times All-American Honorable Mention in both 1996 and 1998. She was named a USA Today Freshman of Influence in 1994-95, one of just two Lady Tigers to ever earn that honor.