Former associate head coach at the University of Southern Mississippi and head coach at Valdosta State, Kiley Hill has been named head women’s basketball coach at Western Carolina University Director of Athletics, Randy Eaton announced today (July 8). Hill’s contract was approved by the WCU Board of Trustees in a special session earlier today.
“Molly, Whitley, Skyler, and I are so blessed and grateful to have been chosen to lead the Western Carolina women’s basketball program,” said Hill. “The circumstances are unique and the challenges ahead are simply that – challenges. We are elated to have the opportunity to serve the surrounding communities and the WCU family, but most importantly, we are excited to share new journeys with some young people who have been through some ups and downs over the past several months.”
A veteran coach with more than 25 years’ experience in collegiate women’s basketball including 17 as a head coach, Hill comes to Western Carolina after spending the last three seasons as the associate head coach at Conference USA-member, Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Miss. His experience also includes a 16-year stint as the head coach at Valdosta State in Georgia, and a four-year term at West Alabama in Livingston, Ala. – one as head coach preceded by three as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
“It is a true pleasure to announce Coach Hill as our next head women’s basketball coach,” Eaton said. “His level of experience and success as a head coach is exactly what we need within our women’s basketball program. During my discussions with Coach Hill about our vacant position, I was struck by his focus on the ‘whole person,’ and not simply on the basketball player. Coach Hill’s vision on empowering our student-athletes to succeed, in all aspects of their lives, was what most impressed me during his interview. I look forward to building a long-term partnership with Coach Hill, and want to welcome his wife, Molly, and his children, Whitley and Skyler, to the Catamount family.”
“We plan to provide a ‘purple-print’ of success for the short term and long haul that focuses on stability and consistency toward a purpose. We want to guide each of our student-athletes toward an experience geared toward being genuine, competitive, and empowering beyond a 94 X 50 court,” said Hill. “How we measure and place value on that success will be varied, but we know that by what we have been exposed to during the search process, Cullowhee and Western Carolina are places that once you get here you fall in love and cherish the beauty of the mountain-scape and more importantly the people who you share it with. In addition, with Dr. Kelli Brown coming on board as chancellor, the dynamic ‘all-in’ athletics coaches, administrative staff, and academic programs, WCU is poised to be even more special in the years to come.”
As the associate head coach at Southern Miss, Hill helped the team amass a record of 56-40 including a 23-11 tally in the 2016-17 season that finished with a return to the Conference USA championship game. Hill's experience helped an undersized squad, nicknamed the “Feisty Bunch,” rank 11th nationally for total steals (370) and finish No. 20 in steals per game (10.9).
In the 2017-18 season with the Eagles, Hill helped 10 players surpass their career-highs in season points. Jayla King joined the 1,000-point club with 1,023 points, and Shonte Hailes led C-USA in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.4, while also leading the conference in 3-point field goal percentage at 45.2 percent.
This past season, 2018-19, Hill and the Eagles strung together a record of 18-14, reaching the second round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) postseason tournament before being edged by North Alabama 69-65. The Eagles had an All-Conference USA selection as the team ranked third in the conference in scoring defense limiting opponents to an average of 59.1 points per game while also ranking second in steals (8.9).
Hill came to Southern Miss following a 16-year stint as head women's basketball coach at Valdosta State where he compiled a 279-177 record. He established himself as one of the top NCAA Division II coaches in the nation and was recognized as the 2012 Women's Basketball Coaches Association's (WBCA) South Region Coach of the Year. He stacked that on top of being named the Gulf South Conference (GSC) East Division's Coach of the Decade. During his time at Valdosta, Hill garnered the GSC East Coach of the Year twice.
Hill advanced to postseason play 14 times during his tenure at VSU. Ten of his 16 teams ranked in the Top-10 or no lower than 25th in the nation in team defense. He had six teams finish in the top two in the Gulf South Conference Eastern Division and collectively, averaged 19 wins over his last 10 seasons.
During his tenure, Hill coached three All-Americans, two GSC All-Decade team selections, a GSC Female Athlete of the Year and 22 of his players earned all-conference plaudits. Not only did his teams perform well on the court, but off the court as well as his teams produced 28 academic all-conference accolades and were twice named to a WBCA Academic Honor Roll while boasting a team GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Hill joined the VSU staff in 2000 after a year as the head coach at the University of West Alabama that was preceded by three seasons as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. While on the bench at UWA from 1996-2000, Hill helped orchestrate the program’s first 20-win season since 1982 and produced four all-conference performers and six all-academic conference selection.
A four-year letter winner on the baseball diamond and a 1995 graduate of Arkansas Tech in Russellville, Ark., Hill got his start in collegiate coaching at his alma mater as a graduate assistant.
Hill is married to the former Molly Longing and the couple has two children; Whitley and Skyler.
Western Carolina returns eight players from last year’s squad with four underclassmen including the Southern Conference Sports Media Association (SCSMA) Freshman of the Year, Jewel Smalls and will be adding three newcomers to the club.
What They’re Saying About Kiley Hill:
“Congratulations to Coach Hill and his family. He is a relentless worker who is committed to helping make the journey of one’s career in college a positive experience. Coach Hill has a vast knowledge combined with experience that will be a launching pad for much success at WCU. You all are getting a Christian man of strong faith values that will impact those around him not just his players. He is a fine man. From all of us at Southern Miss, we wish he and his family “The Best”.” - Joye Lee-McNelis, University of Southern Mississippi head women’s basketball coach.
“Kiley is a proven head coach which is evident by his record from Valdosta State and with his recruiting ties he has developed from Southern Miss and Valdosta State I know he will lead Western Carolina to new heights. He is a tireless worker, great communicator, and a great family man. Western Carolina could not have made a better choice to lead its women's basketball program!” – Joe Foley, University of Arkansas at Little Rock head women’s basketball coach
“Kiley is proven and consistent, a positive force in the world of women’s basketball. What a great hire for Western Carolina. Watch out Southern Conference!” – Amanda Butler, Clemson University head women’s basketball coach
“Congratulations to Western Carolina on the hiring of Kiley Hill as its Head Coach. Kiley is a man of character that will lead the women’s basketball program with integrity. Kiley has been successful at every level and will bring that same history of success to Western Carolina Women’s Basketball. He is a great teacher of the game and will connect well with the students and fans. Kiley and his family will be great additions to the university and community.” - Brooke Stoehr, Louisiana Tech University head women’s basketball coach